Prof. George Hewitt

Review of Antony Eastmond Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia

Review of Antony Eastmond Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia (Pennsylvania   State University, 1998), in BSOAS

The book describes and offers an explanation for the nature of the surviving, or at least recorded, representations mostly in ecclesiastical sculpture or painting but also on coins of members of the Georgian Bagratid (Bagrat’ioni)  dynasty from the first such attested, King Ashot’ II  (891-918) of T’ao province (now in Turkey), through to Queen Tamar (1184-1213), incorporating in this  last discussion her son Giorgi IV Lasha (1213-1223). The result  is as gripping as any detective-story, and if not exactly seeking to reveal 'Who  done it?', Eastmond keeps readers enthralled with his attempts to answer the why and wherefore of it all.

Part 1 deals with the monuments and is itself divided into accounts of royal imagery before the unification of Georgia (888-1008; pp. 9-40), whilst the unified period is spli into pre-Tamar (1008-1184; pp. 41-92) and the reign of Tamar herself (1184-1213; pp 93-196). Part 2 then deals with (i) the themes of the  functions of royal imagery (pp 187-204) and (ii) the patronage and creation thereof (pp. 205-16). The short conclusion (pp. 219-200) is followed by three appendixes: I is entitled 'Royal imagery before 1050 (pp. 221-34),  II is 'The dating and identification of the donor portraits in the Sioni church at At’eni' (pp. 235-7), whilst III presents  the text and translation of the mid-13th century description of 'The rule and order for the blessing of kings' (pp. 239-44) Published in America, US spelling  is followed throughout. Where relevant, parallels are drawn from Byzantium, Serbia and occasionally even further afield.

The full text in PDF can be downloaded by clicking here

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