Georgia: Ancha Gospel, XII-XIII century
Repository name: The National Archives of Georgia, manuscript collection
Item reference: Fond 1446, Manuscript No 323, pages 269
Date: XII-XIII century
Description: The Ancha Gospel is one of the unique manuscripts preserved at the National Archives of Georgia. The document was created at a time when Georgian chasing and art reached their peak. During that period different art forms were developed and educational centers were opened, where mainly literature was rewritten and translated from different languages into Georgian.
According to the colophon the manuscript was rewritten in the XII century and the cover page of the manuscript was created at the beginning of XIII century by the goldsmith Beka Opizari. The current cover of the manuscript was created by Enuki in the late Middle Ages.
Secular and religious historical persons are mentioned in the colophon, in particular Queen Tamar, a powerful Georgian woman of the Golden Age (1160-1213), her husband David Soslan († 1205) and their children – Crown Prince Lasha Giorgi (1192-1223) especially. The manuscript furthermore mentions members of the clergy, the bishops of Ancha who held honorable places among the Georgian bishops: Theodore, the Archbishop of Ancha, and Ioann Rkinaeli.
The Gospel consists of one miniature and decorations. The rest three was lost. At the end of the gospel there is a table of contents.
In terms of historical value, the end part of the manuscript presents the colophon, which was written by hand, as was the rest of the manuscript; it was done very fine and smooth, in figurative Georgian language.
Form: The manuscript is written on parchment and consists of 269 pages, three of them are illuminated. It has a wooden cover bound with leather. The front cover is adorned with silver and a semiprecious green stone. The Gospel is executed in old Georgian script called Nuskhuri, the headings are written in red ink – cinnabar (a substance used exclusively in Georgia, made by mixing mercury and sulfur. It was a special recipe widely used in literary practice in Georgia from time immemorial).
The Gospel was fully restored in 2007.
Cover page of the manuscript.
Detail: Relics, XVI-XVII century
The Miniature of St. Matthew the Apostle
The miniature is preserved in the form of a loop. The draping of the clothes contours and details shown in the form of the arms indicate that the miniature was filled by highly qualified artists.
There is a scroll of writing material in the lap of the Evangelist; his left hand rests on the front of the analogion. The miniature is inserted into the dome. The background of the Evangelist, the inside part of the dome is executed in gold color. One can see that in the past it was covered with gold leaf. The miniature is not loaded with extra details, the main emphasis directed straight at the Evangelist.
Detail of the miniature of Matthew the Apostle
The Iambic verse of Sophrom Scribe
Iambic verses are located between the last colophon of the manuscript and the readings of the whole year of the Gospel furnished by acrostic.