The Symbolic Significance of Medieval Armenian Canon Tables

The Symbolic Significance of Medieval Armenian Canon Tables

By Roseen Giles

Saeculum Undergraduate Academic Journal, Vol 4, No 2 (2009)

Introduction: The highly ornamented illuminations surrounding medieval Canon Tables, which are found in the opening folios of many Gospel books, are rich in visual symbolism. Particularly with the Eastern medieval traditions, their colourful motifs of birds, fruit and flowers are symbolic in a unique, psychological way which requires careful interpretation. The case of the medieval Armenian tradition of Canon Table illumination is particularly interesting and will be the subject of the following discussion. Their symbolism must be interpreted, not as iconography, but as a spiritual and psychological preparation for the soul of the viewer as he or she prepares for the awesome experience of reading the Gospel texts.

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