DIMITRIJE LJ. MARINKOVIĆ
architect, Cultural Heritage Preservation Institute of Pančevo
CIBORIJUMI U MANASTIRU ŽIČI
THE CIBORIA OF ŽIČA MONASTERY
Journal 7/2011 (Museum of Applied Art), pages 79-94
726.591(497.11) ; 271.222(497.11)-523.6
Abstract (original language):
Osnovni motiv teksta sadržan je u pokušaju da se ukaže na istorijsko poreklo oblika i forme ciborijuma, kao i na bogoslovske razloge koji su uticali na odabir modela za njihovu različitu primenu u manastiru Žiči. Kroz deskriptivnu metodu izneta je njihova arhitektonika, opisano je uobličavanje svi
Key words: (original language)
agiazma, liturgijski nameštaj, oltar, proskinitar, sud za osveštanu vodu, fijala, ciborijum, crkva, časna trpeza
Ciborium has been part of a temple ever since the oldest Christian communities started building their sanctuaries. Columns supporting domes make basic architectural structure of an altar. Size, material and richness of decoration of an altar ciborium and its lateral branches stood always hand in hand with the significance of a temple and with the financial power of the endower.
In 1206-1217, king Stefan the First-Crowned and Saint Sava I Serb built the catholicon of the Ascension of Our Lord Church in Žiča Monastery which had been the seat of Serbian archbishopric and the coronation church. After completion of the building works, Saint Sava had the interior of the temple decorated. The original altar septum was carved and placed between eastern dome pilasters. Deep proskynetaria (προσκυνητήριον) stood in front of their western sides facing the naos. In her studies and interpretations of the older altar septum, Milka Čanak-Medić offered a hypothetical reconstruction of its lateral branches shaped as proskynetarion whose construction was similar to that of a ciborium. Judging by the position and shape of their lines and by the degree of the transept shift from its transversal axis towards west, it may be assumed that the original temple design required the placement of the ciboria to allow for a deep space in front of the altar septum housing the ceremonial and very important stone furniture. It is possible that the base of this proskynetarion – ciborium of Žiča served also as cover for the holy items and not only as a flanking to the main icons.
In the late 1930s a phiale – ciborium over piscina, designed by famous Serbian architect Momir Korunović, was built in the southwest part of the courtyard of the ancient Žiča Monastery. Nikolaj Velimirović, in his capacity as bishop of Žiča, engaged vigorously in building activities in the monastery. Renovation and decoration of Žiča included the erecting of the phiale very probably in 1939. It was built to the southeast of the altar apse in the Church of the Ascension and was intended for the piscine below to keep the blessed water for Epiphany. In the estate of architect Momir Korunović there remained a drawing of the Žiča phiale. The executed phiale of harmonious and well-thought-out proportions, must have resulted from another, more developed and decorative idea of Korunović whose drawings and reasons for their development we do not know. If compared to locations of known identical ciboria in the Holy Mount monasteries, which are placed mainly in the forefront of the church and stretching to the west along the transversal axis of temples, it must be noted that the place of the Žiča phiale is unusual, as it is sidelined in relation to the existing monastery buildings. Reasons for the decision to place it in the part of the churchyard beyond the reach of usual liturgy practice are not clear. Regardless of these shortcomings, of inadequate and more recent colour interventions on its metal sheet surfaces and of lack of care for the original polychrome of the architectural plastic which is saved only in traces, the phiale of Žiča, although out of service now, certainly represents an attempt to reinterpret models of the Holy Mount which has been proved to be more successful in the field of architecture and shape than in practising liturgy.
The bishop of Žiča, Hrizostom (Stolić), initiated placing of the altar ciborium, work of architect Dimitrije Lj. Marinković, in the Church of Ascension in Žiča Monastery in 2006. The altar ciborium was not to allow its columns to touch the existing holy table at its corners where bloodless sacrifice is offered in glory of Jesus Christ during liturgy (1 Corinthians 10:18-21; Hebrews 13:10). The analysis of the architectural design of the ciborium indicated certain differences and deviations regarding details between the project and final execution of this liturgical instrument. The endeavour in the Church of Ascension in Žiča Monastery is ever more important since it meant intervention achieved by interpolation of contemporary liturgical instruments in the inside of an object registered as national cultural and historical monument of great importance. The position of a contemporary altar ciborium did not represent threat to the existing holy table since its bottom in the lower part of the ciborium remained untouched. The horizontal dimensions of the ciborium were determined with regard to liturgical requirements related to the central part of the altar space. Its vertical dimensions were adapted to the volume of the altar, allowing good visibility of preserved frescoes in the altar. It is most important though that the Žiča altar ciborium serves its essential task rather than the architectural one. This, however, did not prevent its basic forms and all the assorting details to be designed with greatest care as if it had been an altar ciborium with no visual impediment in the front.
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