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«November 2019»

Fellow Seminar

04 April 2019

Prof. Elissaveta Moussakova will present her research proposal on the topic: "Scribes, Letters and Ornaments in Bulgarian Medieval Manuscripts of the Apostolos: On Case Studies of Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century" on 4 April 2019 (Thursday) at 16:30h.


The prevailing number of preserved Bulgarian mediaeval manuscripts (or at least those which are regarded as Bulgarian) has no other but ornamental decoration. Thus they testify of a visual language which imparts on communication between the text and its reader not through pictorial but through aniconic imagery. Therefore the interaction between words and ornaments seems to be more essential, if not fundamental, than that between words and their iconic analogues on manuscript pages. Inevitably, as histories of writing reveal, the script is the third element in the visual interplay, irrespective of the origin of the manuscripts. Even though such observations have been made in one way or another by Bulgarian scholars, still lacking is an investigation of the subject what incentives moved the aniconic artistic approach towards the text in Bulgarian medieval manuscripts.

My project, partly based on my previous research where I have explored the relation between letters, ornaments and texts, aims at a more systematic analysis of their meaning and apprehension by the medieval "producers" and "consumers" within the frames of Bulgarian mediaeval culture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In pursuing the aim, the theory of ornament will be applied on the selected material.

This lecture, presenting a very initial stage of the work, is focused on several manuscripts taken as a case study. These are copies of the Apostolos, a book on whose illumination very little attention has been given thus far, and even more specific is the choice of manuscripts from the Zograph Monastery library, in fact not studied at all in view of their artistic content.

Elissaveta Moussakova received her PhD degree in 1989 at the Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and became full professor in 2017. Her research interests are in the illumination of Bulgarian, South Slavonic medieval and Byzantine manuscripts, Cyrillic codicology and palaeography, the interrelationship of texts, scripts and images.



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