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bending, bow to her, her farewell to the apostles who, when they are summoned, arrive on clouds, and the Dor- mition featuring numerous participants and Christ with the accepted soul which the angel is to carry through the opened door of paradise. in the continuation, one can see the passing of the Virgin into heaven with the apostle Thomas who is given a belt from her; the apostles find the empty tomb with Thomas behind them confirming that he encountered the Virgin by showing her belt. evolv- ing this theme in great detail, painters produced various versions of it in the second decade of the 14th century, obviously well acquainted not only with the writings at- tributed to St. john the Theologian and his contempo- raries, but also with several more recent works which relied on them, ranging from synaxaria to various poetic creations.
in the outlined themes with liturgical and dogmatic content, special significance was attached to the idea of incarnation, while “historical” representations derived in- spiration and motifs from various apocryphal texts. They also altered the character of painting. Their profusion and arrangement on relatively small surfaces, frequently only on the sides of piers, had as a consequence the reduction of scenes, especially the number of participants recount- ing the events. Only by such reduction was it possible to depict the calendar with representations of holy events and personalities for each day of the year. Several centu- ries before that, the Menologion had been illustrated in codices. apparently it made its first appearance in wall- painting in the 13th century. Locally, however, it had been represented in a similar vein in Staro Nagoričino two or three years preceding Gračanica. The masters from the same region must have been using the same source: the calendar of the Constantinopolitan church for both church- es. it is certainly interesting that, except in Serbia, the Me- nologion appears only in Thessalonica whence the mas- ters must have come, in the church of Saint Nicholas Or- phanos, quite a well-known structure which King Milu- tin had built and dedicated to this saint in the second town of the empire.
The reasons why the cycle of the Calendar occupied a different position in this church than it had in the others lies in the spatial scheme and the general disposition of ornaments. as a matter of fact, their entire repertoire and exact arrangement cannot be established on account of considerable damage to particular surfaces, and we there- fore cannot be sure whether the Menologion—analogies for this exist as well—was illustrated here in its entirety. However, large sections, sometimes in bands, can be fol- lowed on different sides—on the piers and passages, be- low the small domes on the western side of the church and in the narthex. With their appearance and disposi- tion, they correspond in many aspects to individual im- ages of saints, most frequently martyrs, predominantly encountered here in the lower zones.
Saint Jacob of Persia, south aisle, Gračanica, 1318–1321
in a series of themes the subject-matter of which has eschatological connotations or bears a message associat- ed with salvation, the representation of the Last judgment in the western part of the church was customarily given the central place. at the entrance to the narthex the faith- ful were encountered by a complex vision of the apoca- lypse—Christ, the Virgin and john the Forerunner, the apostles, the angels rolling up the heavens, sounding the trumpet and weighing souls, the lake of fire from which fish, beasts and birds on its banks are returning parts of human bodies at the last hour, the personification of the Sea and the earth from which the dead emerge, and ter- rible suffering awaiting the sinful (cold, fire, worms and gnashing of teeth); on the other side is the fenced garden in Paradise with abraham, the righteous in his lap, the Virgin and the Righteous Criminal, while the choirs of the heavenly powers and the righteous (holy women, martyrs, prophets, monks, etc.) are represented separately. The pic- turesque scene, primarily based on the narration of john the Theologian, had its pendant in theological literature which the artist used with endless open or implied refer- ences to the end of human life and the road of salvation which can save a man from a terrible sentence.
in the same space, in the passage leading toward the naos stand King Milutin and Queen Simonis in a scene of the ruler’s investiture, wearing Byzantine imperial garb
The art of Gračanica

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