Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title Acanthus and Palmette Motif in Early Medieval Armenian Sculpture and in the Art of Sasanian Iran
Author email
About author Mikayelyan, Lilit Shavarsh — Assistant Professor. Yerevan State University, Alex Manoogian Str., 1, 0025 Yerevan, Republic of Armenia
In the section Classical Legacy in the Art of Byzantine Oikoumene and Beyond DOI10.18688/aa155-2-22
Year 2015 Volume 5 Pages 220229
Type of article RAR Index UDK 7.04, 7.033.1, 7.032(355) Index BBK 85.13; 6 3. 3 (5Арм.)

Studies in relations between early mediaeval Armenian and Byzantine art recently gained significant activity. However, the issues of cultural relations between Armenia and Sasanian Iran are still poorly covered, though these should be referred to as an important component for reconstruction of a complete cultural environment of the early-mediaeval time. Significant evidence for cultural influence is iconography as well as stylistic parallels in the monuments of the period. Joint analysis of acanthus and palmette, two ornamental motifs common for early-mediaeval Armenian, Sasanian, and Byzantine art, is undertaken in this paper for the first time in corresponding historiography. The said decorative elements are quite often encountered in ornamentals of Armenian churches and memorial monuments from 5th to 7th centuries. Numerous Sasanian patterns of acanthus and palmette dating from the 3rd–7th centuries, typical in gypsum décor and toreutics, are quite close to the ones known in Armenia. Comparative analysis proves that in the considered cultures with different ideological platform — Zoroastrianism and Christianity, ornament, unlike subject images, in the course of time showed commonality and deep antique roots. Quite frequently these ornaments look generalised and immensely similar, so that the exact definition of their type is rather complicated. Tracing the development of the acanthus and palmette motifs from classical origins via graphically looking early-Byzantine patterns to being entirely stylised in mediaeval Armenian sculpture, helps us single out a number of iconographic and stylistic features to rely upon in telling ornaments of rich variety from one another with greater confidence. 

Reference Lilit Mikayelyan. Acanthus and Palmette Motif in Early Medieval Armenian Sculpture and in the Art of Sasanian Iran. Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art: Collection of articles. Vol. 5. Eds: Svetlana V. Maltseva, Ekaterina Yu. Stanyukovich-Denisova, Anna V. Zakharova. St. Petersburg, NP-Print Publ., 2015, pp. 220–229. ISSN 2312-2129.
Publication Article language russian
  • Aleksii II Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus (ed.) Pravoslavnaia entsiklopediia (Orthodox Encyclopedia), vol. I. Moscow, Pravoslavnaia entsiklopediia Publ., 1997. 370 p. (in Russian).
  • Ayazi S.; Miri S. (ed.). Decorative Architectural Stucco from the Partian and Sassanid eras. Tehran, National Museum of Iran Publ., 2007. 84 p.
  • Borisov A.Ya.; Lukonin V. G. Sasanidskie gemmy (Sassanian Seals). Leningrad, The State Hermitage Publ., 1963. 224 p. (in Russian).
  • Butkevich L. M. Istoriia ornamenta (History of ormament. Study guide). Moscow, VLADOS Publ., 2003. 272 p. (in Russian).
  • Djobadze W. Early medieval Georgian monasteries in Historic Tao, Klarjet̀i, and Šavšet̀i. Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag Publ., 1992. 255 p.
  • Donabédian P. Les métamorphoses de l’acanthe sur les chapiteaux arméniens du Ve au VIIe siècle. L’acanthe dans la sculpture monumentale de l’Antiquité à la Renaissance. Actes du colloque tenu du 1er au 5 octobre 1990 à La Sorbonne. Paris, Editions du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques Publications de La Sorbonne Publ., 1993, pp. 147–173. (in French).
  • Durnovo L. A. Kratkaia istoriia drevnearmianskoi zhivopisi (Brief History of Ancient Armenian Painting). Yerevan, Armgosizdat Publ., 1957. 60 p. (in Russian).
  • Ghirshman R. Iran. Parthes et Sassanides. L’univers des forms. Paris, Gallimard Publ., 1962. 406 p. (in French).
  • Grigoryan G. V. Hayastani vagh mijnadaryan qaranist kotoghnere (Early Medieval Four-Sided Stelae in Armenia). Yerevan, History Museum of Armenia Publ., 2012. 288 p. (in Armenian).
  • Harper P. O. The Royal Hunter. Art of The Sasanian Empire. New York, Asia House Gallery Publ., 1978. 176 p.
  • Hasratian M. M. Armianskaia arkhitektura rannego khristianstva (Early Christian Architecture of Armenia). Moscow, Inkombuk Publ., 2000. 400 p. (in Russian).
  • Kazaryan A. Yu. Tserkovnaia arkhitektura stran Zakavkaz’ia VII veka: formirovanie i razvitie traditsii (Church Architecture of the 7th Century in Transcaucasian Countries. Formation and Development of the Tradition), 4 vols. Moscow, Locus Standi Publ., 2012. 388 p.; 640 p.; 692 p. (in Russian).
  • Koshelenko G. A. Kul’tura Parfii (Culture of Parthia). Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1966. 220 p. (in Russian).
  • Petrosyan H. L. Khachqar. Cagume, gorcaruyte, patkeragrutyune, imastabanutyune (Khachkar: the Origins, Functions, Iconography, Semantics). Yerevan, Printinfo Publ., 2008. 406 p. (in Armenian).
  • Piotrovsky B. B. Istoriia i kul’tura Urartu (The Histoty and culture of Urartu). Saint Petersburg, St. Petersburg State University Faculty of Philology Publ., 2011. 656 p. (in Russian).
  • Pope A. U. A Survey of Persian Art. From Prehistoric Times to the Present, vol. VII, Plates 1–257. Tehran, Manafzadeh Group Publ., 1964. 257 p.
  • Ross M. C. Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Mediaeval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, 1: Metalwork, Ceramics, Glass, Glyptics, Painting. Washington, Harvard University Press Publ., 1962. 202 p.
  • Carter M., Grabar O. (ed.). Sasanian silver. Late Antique and Mediaeval Arts of Luxury from Iran. Michigan, The University of Michigan Museum of Art Publ., 1967. 158 p.
  • Stepanyan N. S.; Chakmakchyan A. S. Dekorativnoe iskusstvo srednevekovoi Armenii (The Decorative Art of medieval Armenia). Leningrad, Avrora Publ., 1971. 62 p. (in Russian).
  • Ter-Martirosov F. I. Khram v kreposti Garni — geroon, martirii (The temple in fortress Garni — heroon, martyrium). Yerevan, The Armenian Center for National and International Studies Publ., 1995. 37 p. (in Russian).
  • Tokarskiy N. M. Arkhitektura Armenii IV–XIV vekov (Architecture of Armenia IV–XIV centuries). Yerevan, Armgosizdat Publ., 1961. 389 p. (in Russian).
  • Trever K. V.; Lukonin V. G. Sasanidskoe serebro. Sobranie Gosudarstvennogo Ermitazha. Khudozhestvennaia kul’tura Irana III–VIII vekov (Sasanian silver. Artistic Culture of Iran in the 3rd–4th centuries CE in the Collection of the State Hermitage Museum). Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1987. 156 p. (in Russian).
  • Zalesskaya V. N. Pamiatniki vizantiiskogo prikladnogo iskusstva 4–7 vekov (Monuments of Byzantine applied arts IV–VII centuries). Saint-Petersburg, The State Hermitage Publ., 2006. 272 p. (in Russian).