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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The art and architecture of the crusader states

III: Ecclesiastical Art in the Crusader States in Palestine and Syria,   pp. 69-139 PDF (28.9 MB)

Page 137

be "in the land of the lord of Kerak." 22 But it was a perilous business.
Thietmar, whose place of origin is uncertain, has left a vivid account of
his journey in 1217 to the mountain, "desiring with the greatest desire to
see the body of St. Catherine, sweating with sacred oil." "Many are the perils
of these desert places, frequented by lions, of whom I saw many recent traces,
and harmful reptiles and serpents. When it rains, the water collected on
the mountains fills the desert with such a flood that none can avoid the
danger of it. The heat, also, with its excess destroys the travelers, water
is scarce, Arabs and beduins lay ambushes. In summer no one can cross this
desert. There are few birds in it." 23 It is clear that the journey had indeed
many dangers and was not often undertaken. It seems in fact to have been
more often accomplished in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, after
the final loss of the crusading states. How and when the crusading icons
were brought there remains unknown. 
 Meanwhile in Cilician Armenia the art of illumination, with a long tradition
behind it, still prospered. Byzantine influences were strongly felt, but
in this highly eclectic art western motifs were also absorbed, and in the
arts, as in their territorial position, tile Armenian kingdom of Cilicia
was a link between Constantinople and the crusading states. In few places
were costly manuscripts more prized. The colophons, which are frequent, carry
injunctions such as "In times of wars and invasions carry the books to the
cities and bury them." Toros Roslin, working at Hromgla under tile patronage
of the catholicus Constantine I (122l-?1288), was a man of great talent,
whose figures have a genuine solidity of form and expressive ness of feature,
while his decorative panels have to tile full the Armenian brilliance of
invention and subtlety of coloring.24 In tile colophon that he wrote to a
fine Gospels dedicated to Hetoum II, now in the library of St. James, Jerusalem,
he states that it was completed in 1 268, "at this time great Antioch was
captured by tile wicked king of Egypt, and many were killed and became his
prisoners, and a cause of anguish to the holy and famous temples, houses
of God, which are in it; the wonderful elegance of the beauty of those which
were destroyed by fire is beyond the power of words."25 
22. Chronique d'Ernoul, ed. L. de Mas Latrie (Société de l'histoire
de France; Paris, 
1871), p. 68. 
23. J. C. M. Laurent, ed., Mag. Thietmari peregrinatio (Hamburg, 1857), pp.
20, 37-5 1. 
 24. Dournovo, Armenian Miniatures, pp. 112-138. See also A Catalogue of
the Armenian Manuscripts, A. Chester Beatty Library, with an introduction
by S. Der Nersessian (2 vols., Dublin, 1958), I, xxiv-xxix; S. Der Nersessian,
Manuscrits arméniens illustrés de la Bibliothèque des
PèresMekhitharistes de Venise (Paris, 1936-1937), pp. 50-86. 
 25. Catalogue of Twenty-Three Important Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts,
Sotheby & Co. (14 March 1967). The manuscripts were withdrawn before
the sale. 

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