Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title The Omphalos in the Floor Decor of the Churches of the Premongol Rus Period.
Author email
About author Matveev, Vasilii Nikolaevich — researcher, curator. The State Hermitage Museum, Dvortsovaia nab., 34, 190000 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.
In the section Old Russian Art DOI10.18688/aa166-3-22
Year 2016 Volume 6 Pages 206217
Type of article RAR Index UDK 72.023; 7.033.2 Index BBK 85.11

The Omphalos is a specially marked place in central part of a temple. It originates from the sacred stone at Delphi, which is considered to be the “navel of the earth”. In Christian churches, it was situated in the center of the structure under the dome. On the territory of Kiev Rus, there were only 15 monuments where omphaloi were found. All the omphaloi of Rus could be divided into two groups depending on material and technology.

The first one includes facings of the Tithe church and St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, the Church of Our Savior, Borisoglebskiy Cathedral and the Church of Annunciation in Chernigov. These omphaloi were laid with expensive prestigious materials: stones, smalt, and slate slabs inlaid with smalt. All these facings were found in churches located in the middle basin of the Dnieper River. The second group includes facings in the churches in Halich and Grodno regions: Spasskaya church and the Church of Annunciation in Halich, the rotunda in Oleshkov and Paraskeva church in Zvenigorod, Lower church in Grodno and the Church of Boris and Gleb in Nowogrudek. The composition in all of these monuments represents concentric circles inlaid entirely with glazed ceramic tiles with large gurative compositions in the center.

These two variants show the development of two different traditions. Monuments of the rst group directly link to the tradition of Byzantine mosaics. Monuments of the second group are connected to it indirectly, probably through the Polish architectural tradition.

Reference Vasilii Matveev. The Omphalos in the Floor Decor of the Churches of the Premongol Rus Period.. Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art: Collection of articles. Vol. 6. Eds: Anna V. Zakharova, Svetlana V. Maltseva, Ekaterina Yu. Stanyukovich-Denisova. St. Petersburg, NP-Print Publ., 2016, pp. 206–217. ISSN 2312-2129.
Publication Article language russian
  • Biel A. Stratygra a kulturowa w rejone cerkwi Wołodara w Przemyślu. Przemyśl wczesnośredniowieczny. Warsaw, Wydawnictwo uniwersitetu Warszawskiego Publ., 2010, pp. 269–287 (in Polish).
  • Golubinsky E. E. Istoriia russkoi tserkvi (History of Russian Church), vol. 1, part 2. Moskow, Uniwersitets- kaya tipographia Publ., 1904. 926 p (in Russian).
  • Ioannisian O. M. About Early Stage of Halich Architecture. Kratkie soobschenia instituta arkheologii (Brief Reports of the Institute of Archeology), 1981, vol. 164, pp. 35–41 (in Russian).
  • Ioannisian O. M. Main Stages of the development of Halich Architecture. Drevnerusskoe iskusstvo. Khu- dozestvennaya kultura X – pervoy poloviny XIII veka (Old Rus’ Art. Decorative Culture of the 10th – first half of the 13th century). Moskow, Nauka Publ., 1988, pp. 41–58 (in Russian).
  • Ioannisian O. M.; Mogitich I. R.; Sveshnikov I. K. The Church of Paraskeva in Zvenigorod on the Belka as the Monument of Wooden Architecture of Premongolian Rus. Pamiatniki kultury. Novye otkrytiya ( The Monuments of Culture. The New Discoveries). Moskow, Nauka Publ., 1983, pp. 494–507 (in Russian).
  • Karger M. K. About the Decor of the Interior in Russian Architecture of Premongol Period. Trudy Vserossiyskoy akademii khudozestv (Proceedings of the All-Russian Academy of Arts), 1947, vol. 1, pp. 15–50 (in Russian).
  • Karger M. K. Drevnii Kiev. Ocherki istorii material’noi kul’tury drevnerusskogo goroda ( The Old Kiev. Essays on the History of the Material Culture of Old Rus City), vol. 2. Moscow — Leningrad, Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk USSR Publ., 1961. 662 p. (in Russian).
  • Kaczmarek J. Romańskie płytki posadzkowie z Trzemeszna, woj. Bydgoszcz. Fontes archaeologici Posnanienses ( The Sources of the Archeology of Poznan), 1983, vol. 32, pp. 83–87 (in Polish).
  • Kholostenko N. V. The Research of the Saviour Cathedral in Chernigov. Restavratsiia i issledovaniia pamiatnikov kul’tury (Studies and Conservation of Cultural Memorials), 1990, vol. 3, pp. 6–18 (in Russian).
  • Kholostenko N. V. The Research of the Cathedral of Boris and Gleb in Chernigov. Sovetskaya arkheologia (Soviet Archeology), 1967, vol. 2, pp. 188–210 (in Russian).
  • Khrushkova L. G. Th e Floors of Opus Sectile Technique in East Cost of Black Sea, Crimea, Kiev: Byzantine Context. Trudy Gosudarstvennogo Ermitaza (Transactions of State Hermitage), 2012, vol. 65, pp. 35–61 (in Russian).
  • Malevskaya M. V. About Reconstruction of the Majolica Flour in Lower Church in Grodno. Kultura drevney Rusi (Culture of Old Rus’). Moskow, Nauka Publ., 1966, pp. 146–151 (in Russian).
  • Mikolajczyk G.; Zurowski K. Wyniki badań archeologicznych w katedrze gnieźnieńskiej w 1958 roku. Sprawozdania archeologiczne (Arceological reports), 1962, vol. 14, pp. 193–201 (in Polish).
  • Pelenski J. Halicz w dziejach sztuki średniowiecznej (Halich in the History of Medieval Art). Kraków, Dru- karnia Uniwerśitetu Jagiellońskiego w Krakowie Publ., 1914. 194 p. (in Polish).
  • Rybakov B. A. Antiquitas of the Chernigov. Materialy i issledovania po arkheologii drevnerusskikh gorodov (Materials and Researches in Archeology of Old Rus’ Cities) vol. 11. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk USSR Publ., 1949, vol. 11, pp. 8–102 (in Russian).
  • Sedov Vl. V. Omphalos of the Church of Boris and Gleb in Kideksha and its Analogues in the Old Rus’ Churches Interiors. Goroda i vesi Srednevekovoj Rusi. Arkheologia, istoria, kultura. (Cities and Villages of Medieval Rus’. Archeology, History, Culture). Moscow — Vologda, Drevnosti severa Publ., 2015, pp. 349–364 (in Russian).
  • Tomenchuk B. P. Oleshkivska rotonda. Arkheologia derev’yanich hramiv Galitskoy zemli XII–XIII st. ( the Rotund in Oleskov. Archeology of Wooden Churches of Halich Land of the 12th – 13th Centuries). Ivano- Frankivs’k, Gostinets Publ., 2005. 176 p. (in Ukranian).
  • Voronin N. N. Drevnee Grodno. Materialy i issledovania po arkheologii drevnerusskikh gorodov (Materials and Researches in Archeology of Old Rus’ Cities) vol. 3. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk USSR Publ., 1954, 206 p. (in Russian).
  • Walicki M. (ed.) Sztuka Polska przedromanska i romanska do schylku XIII wieku. Warsaw, Państwowe wydawnictwo naukowe Publ., 1968. 245 p. (in Polish).