ყურანის მე-18 სურისა და ადრეული ჰაგიოგრაფიული თხზულების სიუჟეტი ისლამურ მინიატურაში

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Date
2023
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ივანე ჯავახიშვილის სახელობის თბილისის სახელმწიფო უნივერსიტეტის გამომცემლობა
Abstract
Hagiographic writings about the Seven Saints of Ephesus (the 5th century) were very popular in the Christian world. This text was originally written in Greek or Syriac. It was translated from Greek into Georgian, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Arabic, and also into Latin, and later into European languages. As for Islam, the main plot of the 18th sura of the Qur'an is exactly the same as that of the hagiographic monument, but significantly shortened and conveyed much more concisely. It is well known that among the Arabs the motif of the Seven Saints of Ephesus was well known from Syriac circles, which was duly reflected in the writings of the commentators of the Qur'an. True, there is no cult of saints in Islam, but Muslims treat some of them with special reverence, primarily St. George and the Seven Youths of Ephesus. In the temples built in the name of these saints, not only Christians, but also Muslims pray. In addition, the place of the miraculous dormition and resurrection of the Seven Youths, located in historical Ephesus (now Turkey), is visited by representatives of both religions. The plot of the mentioned hagiographic work is connected with the bodily resurrection of the dead. Christians even called the Youths of Ephesus "the Seven Lazaruses." The 18th sura of the Qur'an is also verbally embellished mainly with eschatological and highly eloquent motifs. It is no coincidence that Louis Massignon calls this sura of the Qur’an the “Apocalypse of Islam”. All this well explains why the cult of the Seven Ephesians was so popular in the Islamic world. As it is known, Islam forbids not only the worship of icons, but also the painting of people and living beings in general. This is considered a great sin, because only God can “create”, “depict” any living being, who also spiritualizes them, and artists and sculptors cannot do this. The worship of icons is equated with idolatry. In the Middle Ages, a great dispute arose between Christians and Muslims on this issue. The treatise of Theodore Abu Qurra, who refutes the iconoclasts, deserves special attention. Basically, the author refers not to the iconoclastic population of Byzantium, but to the Muslim citizens of the Caliphate, who were supported by the Jews in the destruction of the public symbols of Christianity. Despite such a negative attitude towards the depiction of a person, it cannot be said that this prohibition was absolute in the Islamic world, which is well evidenced by the Persian miniatures. In this work, we will focus on miniatures depicting the Seven Youths of Ephesus, the artistic pieces which are of Iranian origin. Unlike the pagan population of the Arabian Peninsula, the inhabitants of Iran had the oldest and greatest traditions of fine art, both directly Persian and based on the work of the peoples who inhabited the vast territories that were part of the huge empires of the Achaemenians and later the Sassanians. It is also worth noting that Shiite Islam has spread in Iran, in which, of course, there is no cult similar to the veneration of Christian martyrs in the literal sense, but it is not alien to a special understanding of the martyrdom of a true believer, based on the tragic death of Ali and Hussein. In Safavid Iran, the Shiite branch of Islam was recognized as the official religion. In the same period, we see a new, powerful stream of development of fine arts, which is reflected in the miniature painting of this era. Persian miniatures of the 16th century are truly masterpieces. Among them are manuscripts containing fiction, but miniatures with religious motifs even depicting the Prophet Muhammad himself are quite common (for example, Miʽraj, his wonderful heavenly journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and meeting with the prophets of the Old Testament). It was during this period that several miniatures of the Seven Youths of Ephesus were created in Iran. Muslim artists, apparently, were well acquainted not only with the 18th sura of the Qur’an, but also with the content of the hagiographic monument, since they especially depict the Byzantine emperor Theodosius the Minor with his retinue, although they do not neglect the red dog of the non-Christian, pure Islamic tradition either. In addition, the motif of waiting in a closed space (a symbol of the revelation of truth in a cave) stands out. Beautiful, brightly colored miniatures depict young Christians sleeping in a cave, accompanied by a guard dog. They are in the state of embrio, and the very shape of the cave reminds us of the mother's womb. The Ephesian Saints, like Abraham, Jonah, and Job, are subject to a process of symbolic death and rebirth that points to the coming resurrection. The cave is not only a symbol of the mother's womb, but also of the grave (recall the icon of the Nativity, where icon painters express the cradle, actually the manger of a newborn, swaddled infant in such a way that it reminds us of a coffin, which is also an indication of the coming resurrection, the victory over death). In Persian miniatures, we mainly find Old Testament and Christian motifs that have penetrated into the Sufi tradition. The thinking of Muslim mystics gave these stories a special flavor, which was also reflected in painting and which, among other examples, is perfectly confirmed by Persian miniatures depicting the Seven Ephesian Saints. The article will also focus on Sufi traditions and their special connection with Eastern Christendom.
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ეძღვნება აკადემიკოს ზაზა ალექსიძის ხსოვნას (1935 – 2023)/ Dedicated to Memory of Academician Zaza Aleksidze (1935 – 2023)
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აღმოსავლეთმცოდნეობა, №12, თბილისი, 2023, გვ.: 68-79 / Oriental Studies, №12, Tbilisi, 2023, pp.: 68-79
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