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monasteries (the Lavra of St. athanasius, iveron and Vato- pedi) were built at Sava’s initiative in Žiča. They then be- came a part of the building plans of the Raška builders. in the context of the Hvosno Studenica, it is possible that there were premises above the exonarthex and the parekklesia which would explain the meaning of the narrow “passages” on both side of the porch. across them it was possible, by means of a staircase, to reach a katechoumena and the tow- ers from which the bells were rung.
The general similarity to the Church of the ascension in Žiča (the Savior’s Church), including the presence of the outer narthex and towers, leads to the conclusion that the Mother of God of Hvosno belongs to the earliest shrines raised following ecclesiastical independence, that in fact it had its origin in the third decade of the 13th century and its exonarthex, parekklesia and towers in the following de- cade of that century.
The preserved lower parts of the main church, although relatively modest, speak interestingly of the origin of the builders employed to raise it. These sections were made of stone with a façade of tufa, a material easily hewn and fashioned into light arched and vaulted structures. The re- maining parts exhibit tiers of accurately dressed stone typical of the stone-masonry workshop which produced the Romanesque churches in the Zeta coastal area. The flat pilasters strengthening the façade and the aspect of the altar apse conform to this tradition. On the outside, the square shape characterized a large number of 9th to 12th century shrines in Dioclea and in the Bay of Cattaro. To this, one must add relatively simple Romanesque capitals with leafy designs, perhaps a fragment of the church fur- nishings belonging to the same style. everything therefore leads to the conclusion that these experienced stone-ma- sons with their feel for proportion came from the adriatic coast, perhaps from Cattaro itself, whence builders had previously come to Serbia. The open circulation between the adriatic coast and inland regions, especially with Ko- sovo, was intensified even more once these areas found themselves within the borders of the Serbian state.
The interior of the church was covered with frescos whose fragments indicate that the walls were painted on two separate occasions. The few remaining fragments do not however help us to say more about them.
The monastic complex also contained other buildings. To the south, near the ramparts, another smaller elongated church seems to have been built in the 14th century, while in the northern section we can see a large portion of a fair- ly spacious rectangular refectory whose end with apse is in ruins. The refectory was not, interestingly, located at its usual site, west of the narthex from where monks collec- tively went to their meals. The choice of the site here is probably due to shortage of space.
Epitaphios of Hvosno, mid-14th century, the Treasury of the Patriarchate of Peć
This considerably damaged painted epitaphios dating from the mid-14th century was found in the ruins of the episcopal Church of the Mother of God of Hvosno near Peć. The Patriarchate of Peć had one of the richest treasuries in medieval Serbia.
even if the ruins could provide a hint of the basic forms of the main structures it would be difficult from the scant written sources to reconstruct the rich history of the mon- astery and the Hvosno bishopric’s see during the several ensuing centuries before this shrine met its end, first dam- aged by a destructive fire and then abandoned during the Great Migration of 1690. We do know, however, of the lives of several distinguished Hvosno hieromonks, bishops and metropolitans whose tombstones have been preserved. We are also acquainted with their writings, transcription and book-binding activities. Some record of their artistic accomplishments has reached us. Before the Second World war by strange coincidence, a large bell was dug up along with precious embroidered and painted cloth that had been hidden by the monks at a time when they had to abandon their dwellings. a large epitaphios, in the Peć Patriarchate today, was the work of an excellent artisan from the early 14th century while the famous writer and painter, Longin, who occasionally stayed in Hvosno prepared a wonderful drawing as a young man to serve as the design for a large aer in 1597. all these are, nonetheless, but pale reflections of the opulent interiors and treasures which were once col- lected in this episcopal center. Today the past of the mon- astery can be evoked only by the ambience and treasuries of monasteries which are still standing.
The Sacred Land: Art of Kosovo,
The Monacelli Press 1997, pp. 20–25.
The Church of Studenica of Hvosno

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