Sunday, 22 April 2018

Some Bulgarian medieval furniture

Our medieval furniture posts often features West European and late medieval furniture examples, but not this time. Recently I received a book on Bulgarian medieval art - which happened to be very uninteresting and pretty boring - except for a few pages showing some (early medieval east European) furniture. I will show these furniture pieces below.

The Terracina chest


The carved chest, from the church treasury of Terracina (Italy), but now in the Palazzo Venezia in Rome, Italy dates from the second half of the 9th century. The chest is presumed to originate from Bulgaria - based on the stylistic details such as the arcades - and likely arrived in Italy due to the religious treaties between the two states.  The scenes below the 18 arcades show eastern European mythological themes. The chest measures 58.5 by 105 by 66 cm.

 
The front of the 10th century chest from Terracina. The arches are very like the arches found in the Roman style orthodox churches found in Bulgaria.

Both sides of the Terracina chest.


The Ochrid door or chest


The decorated oak door from the Saint Nikola-Bolnicki church in Ochrid, Bulgaria once used to be displayed in the National Museum in Sofia, but disappeared during the second world war. The door is thought to be made of the panels of a former chest, like the Terracina one. Another hypothesis is that it is a wooden mould for a bronze door. The images depict early and pre-christian symbols and mythical beasts, as well as saints on horse-back. The door panels likely date from the 10-11th century.

The former door or chest panels from Ochrid, 10-11th century.


Church door from Rila monastery


The panelled and openwork carved door made from walnut originates from the Saint Ivan monastery in Rila, which is now a national museum. The door is highly ornamented with many wickerwork elements. Some panels show mythical beasts. The door likely dates from 1469, although church doors in a similar style with gilding, wickerwork and carved scenes were common in western Europe around 1100 (for instance the door of the St. Maria im Kapitol in Cologne, Germany), and outdated in the 15th century. The door is 2.03 meters high and 1.22 m wide.

Two mythical beasts from the door panels.

A more recent photo by Vincent Ko Hon Chiu (CC-BY SA licence) from the UNESCO World heritage site.

The carved and panelled door of the St. Maria im Kapitol, Cologne, Germany. This door dates from the mid 11th century and was also carved from walnut. It is 4.85 m high and 2.48 m wide

 One of the 26 carved scenes of the life of Christ on the door of the St. Maria am Kapitol, Cologne.


Source (also of the b/w scans) :

Assen Tschilingirov. 1979. Die Kunst des christlichen Mittelalters in Bulgarien. Verlag C.H. Beck, Munchen, Germany. 402 pp.

p.s. If someone is willing to pay the postage, I am happy to send him/her this book. Personally I do not think it is worth the money. Weight 2.1 kg.

4 comments:

  1. This is an interesting twist to the mix, as far as the Terracina chest is concerned. In Italy they seem to assume it is Italian, (at least everything i have read about it) but i always had a problem with its style, if in fact, it was from the late 9th (and i have even seen 10th) century. It could possibly be Italian, but based on the style of the carving, if it is, then it would have to come from the 6th or early 7th century. The Bulgarian connection could solve that conundrum. Thanks for sharing this.
    By the by, there is also a set of doors in Split, Croatia, which is very much in the same vein as these doors and is dated to around 1220. (i forgot the exact date, maybe 1223?) Some areas of Europe retained earlier stylistic trends much later than others. Even in Wales and Scotland this held true; in the 17th century some craftsmen were still working in the Gothic style.

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