Manukian Anna

Upper Tier of West Door of Cathedral of Nativity of Mother of God in Suzdal

Manukian Anna (2018) "Upper Tier of West Door of Cathedral of Nativity of Mother of God in Suzdal ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2018, vol. 31, pp. 9-31 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV201831.9-31


The upper tier of the west door of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Suzdal consists of four plates depicting Christ Pantocrator and the Holy Trinity in the centre and two four-winged unearthly beings at the margins. The four plates should be considered as one composition rather than consisiting of separate elements. Jesus is shown in the type of Christ in Glory, equivalent to the West European Maiestas Domini. His bust is enclosed in a double circle surrounded by the Tetramorph and heavenly forces. This composition, associated with Old Testament Theophanies (Visions of Ezekiel and Isaiah), has a liturgical interpretation as well. Placed in the altar zone, the image of Divine Majesty materialises the presence of God during the Eucharistic sacrifi ce, which is clearly proclaimed in the preface to the Canon of the Mass in both Eastern and Western liturgies. The Holy Trinity together with the cherub and seraph holding Ripidia also implies liturgical reading of the whole upper tier as a representation of Theophany. The location of Maiestas Domini in the area of the church entrance was typical of Romanesque art, especially of church doors, whereas in Byzantine monumental decoration it is rarely found in the western part of the church and never on church doors. On the door plate, Christ is most probably presented as an elderly man alluding to the image of the “Ancient of Days”, which evokes the continuity between the Old and New Testaments and reaffi rms the dual nature of Christ. The “Ancient of Days” was interpreted as a prophetic revelation of the Son before His physical incarnation. Placed in the upper part of the door, it served as a perfect preface for the fi ve lower tiers that narrate the story of the life of Virgin as the vehicle of the incarnation and Christ as the incarnation accomplished, thus off ering a concise yet full reading of the history of Salvation.


church door, Suzdal, Maiestas Domini, Christ in Glory, the Ancient of Days, liturgy, Eucharist, Old Testament Theophany, incarnation, Mother of God, Vision of Ezekiel, Vision of Daniel, Middle Byzantine, 13th century


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Information about the author

Manukian Anna

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Art Criticism;
Place of work: “Private Museum of Russian Icon”; 3/1 Goncharnaia Str., Moscow, 109240, Russian Federation;
Post: researcher;
ORCID: 0000-0001-7269-8899;
Email: manukyan4@yandex.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The article is written in terms of the research project under financial support of the RFBR (Russian Foundation for Basic Research) “The West and South Doors of the Mother-of-God-Nativity Cathedral at Suzdal as the Monument of Russian Pre-Mongol Culture (1227-1238)” № 17-04-50127-ОГН.