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The powerful and harmonious proportions of the mon- umental edifice were made of superbly cut blocks of blue, pink and white stone. Their neat surfaces are not disturbed by the shallow pilasters which divide them in regular in- tervals or mark their ends. This kind of masonry of mul- ticolored, alternating blocks in the pattern of a checker board, was not unknown in Romanesque architecture on the adriatic Coast; it especially recalls the tradition of Tuscany churches. The design relies on the founder’s mau- soleum and its relation to the basic layout and Roman- esque exterior which did not have the customary white marble façade with pilasters. On the other hand, the two churches did have the same ceremonial portals with ar- chivolts and columns resting on lions as well as Roman- esque windows which on the altar apses had three-light mullioned windows and consoles of small blind arches running beneath the roof, decorated with stylized floral motifs and animal heads. judging by all this, the lateral portals of the Banjska church were built in much the same way as they were in Studenica.
The scattered fragments, today mostly in the church’s lapidarium, do not help us to reconstruct a sense of the whole. in order to understand its nature, one needs to study in particular the richly sculpted representation of the enthroned Mother of God with Christ in her lap, which writer Rastko Petrović found in an unexpected condition after the First World War in a village church at Sokolica near Banjska. The village parishioners, honouring the sculpture in their own peculiar way, had dressed it in a folk costume. although quite badly damaged, the Vir- gin’s face recalls the ornamentation in the lunette of the portal of the Studenica church. There can thus be no doubt that the artisan, told to emulate Studenica, first wanted to familiarize himself with the Virgin’s image and especially the carved decorative motifs which he under- took. This is why it can be assumed that as in Nemanja’s church, the Virgin and Christ here were flanked by the figures of the archangels Michael and Gabriel. The traits of the earlier Studenica sculptoral decoration with visible
King Milutin’s silver dinar of matapan type.
Obverse: King receiving banner from
Saint Stephen, legend: UROSiUS ReX S STeFaN; Reverse: enthroned Christ
elements of the late Comnenian manner and rich, trem- bling folds of draperies were, however, not repeated in the Romanesque modelling of the figures in the Banjska church. Here, too, we note the reverberations of Byzan- tine influence, especially in the selection of ornaments on the Virgin’s throne. These could have reached the artisans indirectly by way of the Romanesque art of the appenine Peninsula whose 12th and 13th century depictions display some similarities with them. it is certain that the artists of the Zeta coastal area worked in the same spirit by cre- ating characteristically large, heavy static figures. The very surface of their broad heads and necks corresponds to the placement of the sculptures above the entrance, visible only from the front, allowing the artist to disregard their side appearance.
Parts of the archivolts which earlier found their way into the collections of the National Museum in Belgrade and the archaelogical Museum in Skoplje with entwined figures of beasts and birds also echo the ornamentation in Studenica. For example, the motif of a wolf with a sheep in his jaws has been copied here exactly. Moreover, simi- lar works—not precisely dated—are to be found in coastal towns as well as in later shrines which coastal master-build-
The Banjska Church
    Detail of archivolt (bird), Detail of archivolt (wolf ), A fragment of the stone carved Banjska Monastery, 1312–1316 Banjska Monastery, 1312–1316 ornament with interweaving, Banjska Monastery, 1312–1316

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