Cyprus

Cyprus 2

Cyprus

SETTING AND AUDIENCE
Although the island of Cyprus was only a day and a night’s voyage from Tyre on the Levantine coast, it was ten days’ sailing from Constantinople in the most propitious of circumstances. The island’s relative remoteness from the Empire’s bureaucratic center, as well as its physical isolation by the sea, fostered a degree of spiritual and political independence which conditioned the artistic production of the population.

The autonomy of the Cypriot church was established early. Through the miraculous intervention of St. Barnabas, the patron saint of Cyprus, the islanders won their long-standing struggle with the patriarchate of Antioch. According to tradition, Emperor Zeno (474-91) affirmed the autocephalos status of the Church of Cyprus and awarded the island’s primate such unique imperial trappings of independence as the right to sign in red ink, wear a purple cloak at religious festivals, and bear a scepter instead of a normal pastoral staff. The Cypriot church was subject only to imperial authority. Secular administrative independence of Antioch was achieved somewhat later, during the reforms of Justinian in 535. Independence from the Empire itself was externally imposed by the Arabs. Cyprus was invaded in the 640s, but in contrast to other regions overrun in the Arab conquests of the seventh century—Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, or even Crete—Cyprus was never Islamicized. From 688/689 until the tenth century the Cypriots lived under a treaty with the Arabs whereby they would maintain military neutrality and pay a tribute to the Caliphate equal to that paid to the Byzantines. The occasional Arab invasions of the island during this interim are excused by Arab historians as punitive ventures necessitated by the Cypriots’ lapses in neutrality. Al-Laith in the tenth century wrote, “The Cypriots are constantly charged by us with infidelity to Moslems and loyalty to Allah’s enemies, the Greeks.”5 Even Greek accounts of Arab excesses suggest that Cyprus enjoyed a special status in the Mediterranean. Theophanes gives the impression that Cyprus was a place of asylum:
In the same year [812-13] many Christian monks from Palestine and all over Syria arrived in Cyprus having fled the unending evil of the Arabs.. .The renowned monasteries of Sts. Chariton and Sabas in the desert along with other churches and monasteries were destroyed. Some [monks] became martyrs while others went to Cyprus and from it to Byzantium. The Emperor Michacl (I Rangabe] and the holy patriarch Nicephorus welcomed them and Michacl provided aid in every way. He gave the men coming into the city [Constantinople] a well known monastery and he sent a talent of gold to the monks and laity still in Cyprus.
The question remains: What was the nature of Cypriot neutrality? The three- hundred-year period between the first Arab invasion of Cyprus in the late 640s and the official Byzantine reconquest of mid-tenth-century Cyprus has been presented as a “dark age,” and the island characterized as a “no-man’s land” between Christians and Moslems. It seems at least equally possible that, despite disruptions and occasional depredations, life in Cyprus went on in a productive, if not sumptuous, manner. It has even been cogently argued that “in Cyprus as in the cities of Dalmatia and elsewhere, the old civic structures of Late Antiquity survived, in which effective local power lay in the hands of city notables and the bishops.” Indeed, from the life of St. Demetrianus, written in the early tenth century, it appears that the ecclesiastical structures of the island were enduring and resilient; they may even have been strengthened in the absence of imperial authorities. This hypothetical reconstruction of the social setting in Cyprus before the midtenth century receives support from the monumental remains of the era. These works are for the most part communal foundations, located in towns rather than in the countryside. The buildings are local in character, indicative of the island’s relative isolation; the few remaining fragments of their original fresco decoration, however, betray the Cypriots’ cultural allegiance to Byzantium. Nicephorus Pho- cas’s “conquest” of Cyprus in 965 may then represent not so much the reestablishment of the Byzantine presence on the island, but rather the termination of all former obligations to the Saracens. The casual treatment of this occupation in Byzantine sources would be explained if Nicephorus Phocas’s “victory” represented simply the political realization of already well-established Byzantine loyalties.
From the imperial “reconquest” of Cyprus in the tenth century until the late twelfth century, Byzantium’s dominance was challenged only by occasional rebels and usurpers, such as the disloyal governor Theophilus Eroticus (1042/43), Rhap- somates (1092), and Isaac Comnenus (1184-91), who all profited from the island’s remoteness. The official incorporation of the island into the Empire may be refleeted in changing patterns of patronage: Funding appears to expand from urban, congregational structures to monastic or private foundations often located in the countryside. The building of monasteries and oratories in the mountains appears to increase proportionally with the Empire’s military presence. During the reign of Alexius I (1081-1118), Byzantine strategic interest in Cyprus was particularly acute. In the face of the Seljuk threat in Asia Minor, in reaction to internal turmoil represented by the revolt of Rhapsomates in 1092, and as a protective measure against the ambitions of the Latin Crusaders, the Byzantines made efforts to secure the island. A series of castles—at Kyrenia, Buffavento, Kantara, and St. Hilarion—were built in the northern range of mountains. Not only governors but also high ecclesiastics were sent to Cyprus from Constantinople. The emperor and his functionaries became conspicuous sources of artistic patronage. Local dignitaries evidently attempted to mime the achievements of the metropolitan elite; as in Cappadocia, artistic production reflects their assimilation of the dominant ideology.
Monastic organization, as well as monastic structures, appears to have become more formalized. The typikon of the Machaeras monastery, founded with the financial support of Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143-80), exhibits a specificity characteristic of monastic communities established by Byzantine magnates in Constantinople. For example, it legislates the placement and number of candles to be lit in celebration of different feasts as well as the topography of liturgical practice. The Machaeras typikon dictates that certain daily services are to be sung in the narthex. The adoption of such metropolitan ritual formulas has monumental implications. One of the peculiarities of Cypriot church planning is that nartheces apparently were not incorporated into ecclesiastical structures before about the middle of the twelfth century. From that time onward, however, nartheces not only were included in the construction of new churches but also were commonly added to old ones. It would seem that even ritual practices were affected by centralization under the Comnenians.

Cyprus 3

In the twelfth century there were also increasingly numerous contacts of a commercial and spiritual character with the Holy Land. The principal vehicle of this communication was pilgrimage. Travelogues from the seventh through the tenth centuries, for example, those of St. Willibald and St. Elias the Younger, give the impression that the pilgrim was an isolated alien, the object of curiosity or suspicion. In the wake of the First Crusade, pilgrims to the Holy Land multiplied. Cyprus was an important stop en route to Palestine. An anonymous pilgrim, probably of the twelfth century, wrote: “The shortest way to the [Holy] Land is from Famagusta [on the east side of Cyprus].” Christians in the Levant were also spiritually linked to the island as the nearest substantial enclave of co-religionists. For example, when in the face of the Crusading armies the Saracens planned to raze the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Christians of Jerusalem ransomed the site with the generous aid of the Cypriots: “The entire possessions of the Christians living in Jerusalem were not sufficient to pay the sum [that was demanded]. It became necessary, therefore, for the venerable patriarch to make a voyage to Cyprus in order to obtain the means of satisfying this exorbitant demand.
The general spiritual links between the Christian communities of Cyprus and the Levant were formalized in particular circumstances, The monastery of St. Catherine on Sinai may also have acquired its metochia (landholdings) on the island in the late eleventh or early twelfth century. There is also a Latin presence on the island: In 1148 Emperor Manuel Comnenus extended to the Venetians the same commercial privileges in Cyprus that were enjoyed in the rest of the Empire. This development corresponds chronologically with the introduction of the pointed arch in Cyprus. This device was foreign to the island. Although it occurs in Constantinople, it was not aesthetically exploited in the architecture of the capital. The pointed arch was, however, common by the mid-twelfth century in Crusader construction in the Levant.
There is little information about the relative wealth of Cyprus in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. According to the bitter complaints of Nicholas Muzalon, archbishop of Cyprus from about 1107 to 1110, the people of the island must eat as the Baptist did; they go naked during the day; their only shelter is provided by caves. This denunciation was, however, written in an attempt to exonerate himself of the charge of deserting his bishopric after he had negligently returned from Cyprus to Constantinople. Moreover, Muzalon specifically attributes the island’s impoverishment to its brutal taxation by the Empire. Accounts of the island by pilgrims, Crusaders, and Arab historians indicate, in contrast, that Cyprus was quite wealthy. The account of an anonymous pilgrim of the twelfth century is typical:
And in that island there are one hundred and thirty cities and good castles, excellent sweet wine, handsome, strong and brave men, and a great and exceedingly rich kingdom.
It docs not appear, then, that Cyprus was a hopelessly poverty-stricken province through the Middle Byzantine period. It seems to have survived the periodic raids of the Arabs and the depredations of Byzantine usurpers with a relatively healthy agrarian economy and population. This economic and social stability provides the basis for identifying the strong local architectural tradition found in Cyprus. Although certain features of church planning, and more particularly church decoration, demonstrate the artistic dimension of Cyprus’ political and cultural ties with Constantinople and Palestine, autochthonous construction technique and sensibility ensure the peculiar character of Cypriot architecture.
At the end of the twelfth century, the island was cruelly incorporated into the Caisader territories.” Richard Coeur de Lion’s conquest of the island after his defeat of the rebel Isaac Comnenus, the brutalities of the Tfemplar occupation, and the demographic and administrative upheavals of Guy de Lusignan and his brother Aimery brought about such radical social changes in Cyprus that the traditional patterns of artistic patronage and practice were disrupted. In contrast to the period of Arab-Byzantine neutrality, the era of Crusader rule is marked by artistic discontinuity.

Cyprus 3

THE EARLY TENTH CENTURY
Cyprus is made up of two mountain ranges, the massive Troodos in the southwest and the Kyrenia forming a northern spine. Between these two ranges is a fertile saucer plain. The Ttoodos is also flanked by a girdle of foothills and coastlands. The Middle Byzantine monuments of the lowlands of Cyprus are distinct from those in the mountains in scale, plan, style, chronology, and social context. The churches of the lowlands, which by and large seem earlier than those of the mountains, are medium-sized structures ranging from about 16 to 32 meters in length with a dominant longitudinal axis. They are vaulted buildings, usually with one or more domes. Though fabrics differ in the size and quality of ashlar used in their construction, limestone was the dominant building material because of its availability, Tertiary limestones and marls characterize the coastal areas, as well as the plain between the two mountain ranges. The lowland churches tend to be urban foundations; whatever their original function, monastic or parochial, most are associated with towns. Patronage apparently focused on foundations within the community. An analysis of a few of the lowland structures establishes the character of both the architecture and patronage of the group.
The church plan perhaps most common among lowland churches of Cyprus is the pier basilica with a single dominant dome. Although reflective of the general popularity of centralized domed structures in the Middle Byzantine period, these monuments arc thoroughly local in character. This group includes the Panagia Kanakaria at Ly thrankomi/ three monuments on the Karpas Peninsula (the Aso- matos and the Panagia at Aphendrika and the Panagia at Sykha), and the Panagia Angeloktistos at Kiti. The church now dedicated to St. Anthony, located in Kellia, a small town on the east coast of Cyprus north of Lamaca, is typical of this series in its architecture; moreover, the remarkable survival of fragments of its early fresco program gives it a unique place in a study of the development of Byzantine painting in Cyprus.
Like many other members of the group to which it belongs, St. Anthony incorporates several building phases. Thus the monument represents a degree of continuity in the urban setting of which it is a part. The earliest part of the present superstructure is the core of the building, including the four oblong freestanding piers, the eastern and western responds, and parts of the south wall, all of which are constructed of irregularly coursed ashlar. Much of the present vaulting of the monument is post-Byzantine, but from the remains of the earliest medieval phase, the church appears to have had a central dome supported by four piers and buttressed to the east and west by longitudinal barrel vaults and to the north and south by shorter transverse barrel vaults. Although in its plan and vaulting system the church bears some resemblance to the metropolitan cross-in-square type, it is given a basilican sensibility by the longitudinal barrel vaults which cover the corner bays and the single-order moldings of the east-west arches. These simple moldings are one of the few linear features of the structure, which has a marked
organic, unarticulated character. Despite the greater centrality of St. Anthony’s plan, the building’s rough-cut ashlar masonry, the broad handling of its structural members, and the heavy proportions of its interior spaces closely associate it with the other members of the series of lowland churches. One unique feature of the architecture of the church at Kellia is its figurative sculpture: The protomes which appear at the bottom angle of the pendentives below the central dome seem to have been part of the original structure.
The earliest surviving phase of this church retains fragments of its medieval fresco decoration, uncovered recently during the removal of later internal buttressing. The oldest fresco layer is located on the east and west pier-faces of the south arch of the central bay. Ib the east is a Crucifixion (see figs. 3.2 and 3.3). Christ is central, and except for his slightly tilted head, he is rigidly frontal. The Virgin raises both her hands to Christ; St. John holds the Gospels in his left hand and raises his right toward the cross. Verses from John 19:26-27 appear below the horizontal arms of the cross. The sun and moon are depicted in the upper corners of the composition. Although the fresco was badly damaged in the process of preparing the surface for a later plaster layer, it is possible to decipher the style of the paintings. The figures, flattened against the surface of the picture plane, fill the entire framed space. Christ’s hoselike arms and oval torso show no signs of torsion; modeling on all three figures is minimal and drapery is rendered with a series of pleatlike striations. The palette is limited to earth colors. Similar frescoes are found in Komo tou Yialou on the Karpos Peninsula in a chapel dedicated to Hagia Solomoni and in the rock-cut church of Agia Mavra at Khrysokava, Kyrenia. Outside Cyprus, the closest stylistic and iconographic parallels are found in the derivative members of the early tenth-century Ayvah-Tokah group in Cappadocia, such as the church of El Nazar. The Crucifixion from the earliest-surviving ninth-century layer of fresco from the now-inundated church of Episkopi, Euryta- nia, in Greece, also shows many of the same features.
In El Nazar, the Crucifixion is part of an elaborate narrative cycle; in St. Anthony the scene is an enframed, isolated icon, prominently positioned immediately to the right of the sanctuary. Like the representation of the Crucifixion in the Chapel of Nicetas, this is an image of sacrifice associated typologically and physically with the eucharistic ritual as it occurred in the apse. The number of medieval graffiti scratched on the Crucifixion suggests that it was an effective devotional icon. The stylistically related panel of two standing saints which was painted opposite the Crucifixion on the southeast pier shares its votive character. Better preserved are a series of ex-voto images of the enthroned Virgin and Child on the southwest pier. The Virgin and Child on the lowest exposed plaster layer on the north face of the pier seems to belong to the same period as the Sacrifice of Abraham, which appears on the southwest respond. Another panel of the Virgin and Child was rendered on the west side of the same pier, on a plaster layer which overlaps the first image. This squatly proportioned Virgin on a lyre-back throne is constructed of neat geometric segments and given precise, simplified features. The style of this fresco is similar to that found in the early twelfth-century church of the Panagia Phorbiotissa at Asinou in the Troodos. The earliest-surviving phases of fresco decoration of this monument thus seem to be of a votive character. Mounted military martyrs proliferate, especially on the north piers at some later time, perhaps the twelfth century. Apparently at a later date the church was also decorated with a feast cycle: A fragment representing Peter cutting off Malchus’s ear from the scene of the Betrayal of Christ by Judas survives in the lower corner of the south barrel vault. Unfortunately only a few words of a long dedicatory inscription written on a slab of reused marble sunk into the east wall of the nave are decipherable. Nevertheless, evidence provided by the fresco decoration at Kellia indicates that the church had been rebuilt by the early tenth century. Its ex-voto decoration also suggests that individual members of the community supported the church’s piecemeal decoration perhaps into the eleventh century. Apparently only rather late in its medieval life did the church receive a conventional Middle Byzantine program of the sort discussed in chapter 2.
The decoration of St. Anthony at Kellia seems to indicate that during the late ninth or early tenth century in the lowland towns of Cyprus there was a communal interest in the local church. Perhaps a parallel can be drawn with the medieval reconstructions of the Panagia Kanakaria at Lythrankomi. On the southwest nave pier in that structure is an inscription ascribed by Cyril Mango to the ninth or tenth century which states that John, a sinful deacon(?), with the collaboration of Theodoref?), archbishop {of Cyprus?], Solomon of Jerusalem [archbishop c. 860- 65?], and Eustathius, repaired)?) the church. This enumeration of names suggests a collaborative project. The lack of secular titles seems to intimate an absence of imperial authority, while the appearance of high-ranking clergy (and the lack of reference to monks) may allude to the status of the urban community which the church was to serve.
The architecture of the Panagia Kanakaria, which has been thoroughly analyzed by A. H. S. Megaw, has much in common with St. Anthony. Most obviously it shares its complexity, born of numerous reconstructions and attesting to the longevity of the ecclesiastical associations of a particular lowland site. The Panagia also has many of the same formal features as found at Kellia: limestone ashlar construction, heavy proportions, and in all of its phases a longitudinal bias. Its initial reconstruction as pier basilica has been dated by Megaw to about 700, largely on the basis of favorable historical circumstances. It took the form of a singledomed basilica in its second medieval building phase. It is unclear as to what phase of reconstruction the inscription mentioned above refers, although judging from the personages involved, it seems unlikely to have been a minor one.
Building activity on Cyprus in the early tenth century is also attested by a second series of lowland churches, including St. Lazarus at Larnaca, St. Barnabas at Salamis, Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion at Peristerona, and St. Parasceve at Yeroski- pos. The most prominent shared feature of this group is the multidomed nave. Its least pretentious member is a church now dedicated to St. Parasceve located on the south coast of Cyprus in the small town of Yeroskipos. St. Parasceve is a small basilica with a main vessel of three bays, each covered by a- low dome, and barrel-vaulted side aisles centrally interrupted by domical vaults. The nave bays are delimited by heavy piers, from which spring the transverse and longitudinal arches which support the domes. The nave arcades are infilled with walls punctured only by small roundheaded openings, giving the low aisles a cavelike
sensibility. Reused capitals or simple masonry lumps mark the springing of the arches. The interior of the church is plastered; cornices appear to grow out of the walls below them, only vaguely defining the constituent volumes of the interior space. The exterior of the building reveals the reason for the absence of linear articulation: The fabric is rough-cut limestone set in thick mortar beds. The quatrafoil martyrium or tomb in the southeast corner of the structure is original; the narthex and bell tower are later additions.
Its scale and location suggest that St. Parasceve functioned as a congregational church; its rendering indicates that the community it served was limited in its means. Nevertheless, the building did receive a fresco decoration, several phases of which survive in a fragmentary form. On the northeast tympanum of the nave, a post-Byzantine layer of plaster has been removed to reveal the remains of the scene of the Koimesis (Death of the Virgin). Formal parallels with work in Bethlehem suggest a twelfth-century ascription. In the eastern dome covering the sanctuary bay, an earlier phase of painting has also been uncovered (fig. 3.6). The fresco divides the dome into three registers. The lowest register is almost entirely destroyed; the middle register is filled with a large, broadly executed rinceau; the crown of the dome, separated from the lower sections by a simple rope interlace, is ornamented with a great gemmed cross, the center of which has fallen away. This aniconic decoration is realized in a limited palette of blues and reddish-browns, muted now through fading. The work was executed on its own plaster layer and consequently cannot be dismissed as a temporary, apotropaic decoration. Cappadocian parallels—for example, the cross in the conch of the apse of the Chapel of Nicetas the Stylite in Cappadocia—share with Yeroskipos their rinceau borders, geometrically patterned grounds, and internal elaboration of the cross. Further, the conception of the fresco, with the cross occupying the most prominent height of the interior space, is the same. It is, in consequence, tempting to ascribe the painting in Yeroskipos to the same period as the principal series in Cappadocia, that is, to the late ninth or early tenth century. This attribution provides a terminus ante quem for the construction of the church.
The obvious irregularities of St. Parasceve’s layout, the deformations of its elevation, the unworked nature of its fabric, and its broad, personable proportions all express the local nature of the building. Nevertheless, the complexity of its five- domed scheme makes it unlikely that the plan was this master mason’s own invention. His dependence on a preexisting model is all the more probable as he would not have had far to look for inspiration. Closest in form to St. Parasceve is the church of Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion in the town of Peristerona, located in the lowland trough between the Troodos and the Kyrenia ranges (figs. 3.7 and 3.8). The church is apparently dedicated to two obscure anchorites rather than to the homonymous patron saint of Cyprus, the apostle Barnabas and the great ascetic Hilarion. Although larger than the church at Yeroskipos, Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion is a moderate-size basilica with three bays covered with domical vaults.
Like St. Parasceve, it has barrel-vaulted aisles which are interrupted at the midpoint by domed bays. The springing of the transverse arches of the nave is again queerly marked (though more regularly than at Yeroskipos) by small reused marble capitals intrusively embedded at the corners of the piers. It also resembles St. Parasceve in its massiveness and heavy proportions. In all, the programmatic similarities between these two churches suggest that they were produced in response to similar requirements at about the same time.
There are, nevertheless, significant differences between the two structures. Both the exterior volumes and the interior spaces of Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion (despite the introduction of pointed-arch reinforcements in the nave) have a geometric clarity that is absent in Yeroskipos. The exposed exterior displays much better quality ashlar masonry. Internally, the main arches are all ordered; cornices at the bases of the drums are more crisply treated, although still no distinction is made between the drum and the corona of the cupola; the aisles are more fully integrated into the nave, allowing a rational flow of light. The church at Peristerona also has peculiar architectural details which are not found at Yeroskipos. For example, the westernmost cupola of the nave is oddly elaborated with four flat, riblike elements springing unarchitectonically from above the four windows opened into its haunch. These details, particularly the decorative treatment of a structural feature such as dome ribs, seem to betray the church’s dependence on a more complex structure. Like the church at Yeroskipos, this is a local church apparently built to serve the local community. But even more clearly than St. Parasceve, Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion seems to be derived from a more complex archetype.
Closely related to Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion are the churches of St. Lazarus at Lamaca and its sister church, St. Barnabas, near Salamis (fig. 3.9). Despite differences in scale and complexity, the plans of the churches at Larnaca and Salamis have much in common with that at Peristerona: No nartheces, tripartite sanctuaries, and naves provided a ponderous rhythm by broad, domical bays. They too are constructed of good-quality limestone ashlar, but, like Sts. Barnabas and Hilarion, show relatively little concern for spatial articulation. These monuments also share certain idiosyncratic details. Spolia capitals again are set incongruously into massive piers to mark the springing of arches. More instructively, the eight flat ribs of the western dome of St. Barnabas, which rise as ribs should between the windows of the drum, seem to have provided the misunderstood model for the “ribs” at Peristerona. Perhaps St. Lazarus’s long-lost domes were also ribbed. This, in addition to their greater size and elaboration, suggests that the churches of Larnaca and Salamis were constructed earlier than those at Peristerona and Yeroskipos, and that they served as models for the later buildings.
Unfortunately neither St. Lazarus nor St. Barnabas is securely dated. A. H. S. Megaw posits that the partially reconstructed St. Barnabas is dependent on the more complete church at Larnaca, Further, he tentatively accepts an argument for a date of around 900 for St. Lazarus, according to which the impressive tripledomed church was constructed with funds provided by Emperor Leo VI in recompense for receiving from Lamaca the relics of Lazarus. However tentative this variety of historical argument in favor of a late ninth- or early tenth-century ascription for St. Lazarus must remain, such a dating receives support from the fresco decoration of the church at Yeroskipos.
Metropolitan associations put forward by Megaw would help explain not only the date of St. Lazarus but also its form, which in its superstructure and nave plan seems to have borne a resemblance to the now-lost Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. In St. Lazarus each dome of the nave is supported on its own set of four piers. This support system is similar to that used by the architects of San Marco in Venice and in part also by the builders of St. John of Ephesus—two monuments which are generally acknowledged as having been modeled on Justinian’s great five-domed cruciform church. Without the evidence of textual sources, speculation on what meaning the form of any church might have had for its audience remains hypothetical. However, reference to the apostolic foundation of the capital, which served as a memorial to the disciples of Christ, would have been appropriate at Larnaca, where the church was not only dedicated to the memory of the city’s first bishop, the friend of Christ, but, judging from the ancient tombs under the sanctuary, may also have marked the traditional site of his tomb. Moreover, some medieval copies of the Holy Apostles, such as the Cathedral of Canosa in Apulia or San Marco in Venice, suggest that its significance continued to be understood even on the periphery of the Empire. Perhaps, then, the patrons of Peristerona and Yeroskipos were also aware of the traditional associations of the church type they had appropriated. Lateral domes, so prominent in the cruciform metropolitan prototype, are missing at Larnaca and Salamis but appear at Yeroskipos and Peristerona, though in a basilican context. The martyrium/ tomb at Yeroskipos may have also derived its location and centralized form from the mausoleum attached to the east side of the original Holy Apostles by Emperor Constantius for the entombment of his father.47 It thus seems at least possible that the builders even of relatively unpretentious foundations might make meaningful allusions to distant metropolitan monuments such as the Holy Apostles.
St. Anthony at Kellia, St. Parasceve at Yeroskipos, and the monuments related to them indicate that there was considerable artistic production in Cyprus during the late ninth and tenth centuries, before the official Byzantine reconquest of the island. Most of these churches occur in urban settings and are large enough to have served sizable congregations. The architecture of this period has a distinctively regional character. Building materials and techniques are local; there is no evidence, for example, of imported marble. Roughly worked limestone is used throughout, often in brick-shaped form for the vaults and infill and more carefully cut blocks for quoins, The lack of articulation suggests that a minimum of stone- cutting was done on the site. Cypriot builders show a characteristically Byzantine lack of concern with the regularity of their structures. If the considerable deformation of the superstructure and the irregularities of the plans are any indication, the masons worked rapidly. The plans, though diverse and often incremental, suggest a well-established local bias in favor of a longitudinal axis. This strong local character of Cypriot architecture before the Byzantine “reconquest” is indicative of a certain insular autonomy. Although the multidomed plan shows the architects’ awareness of metropolitan forms, they selected their model from the past, not from the present. Enough has been written about revivals in Byzantium to assure us that differences between the past and the present were appreciated. The appearance of apostles’ buildings in the provinces indicates that this distinction was not the sole prerogative of the intellectual elite of the capital. The earliest surviving Middle Byzantine frescoes have programmatic and stylistic analogies elsewhere in Byzantium, suggesting that the urban coastal communities in which these churches occur were not entirely disengaged from Constantinople. That is, the architecture of the island indicates a certain independence, while the painted decoration suggests that such independence was not simply the result of isolation.
THE LATE TENTH TO THE EARLY TWELFTH CENTURY
A shift in functional focus seems to occur among Cypriot patrons of ecclesiastical foundations after Nicephorus Phocas’s “reconquest” of 965. In contrast to the urban character of the earlier churches, most new foundations of the eleventh and twelfth centuries were monastic chapels or oratories located not only in the lowlands but also in the Troodos and Kyrenia ranges. From surviving dedicatory inscriptions, most of these churches seem to have been initially supported by a single individual or family for its own eternal benefits. This represents the substitution of private foundations for communal buildings.
The change in the function and setting of Cypriot churches corresponds to a change in form. These chapels are small in scale. The size of the undertaking seems to have been determined by the wealth of an individual patron. The Kyrenia range retains its overlaid strata of sedimentary limestone, but in the higher Troodos range weathering has exposed its igneous core. Consequently, in the Troodos, because of the difficulty involved in working the available hard granites and schists, building stone was rarely squared but simply laid in thick mortar beds. The constituent volumes of the building thus are even less clearly articulated than in the lowland churches. The development of the distinct types of plans in the mountain churches, which will be discussed below, is also related both to the scale of the churches and their building materials. Despite these significant changes in form and function, a number of characteristics reflect the continuity of the local building tradition on the island. Proportions remain heavy. The longitudinal bias evidenced in the early Middle Byzantine structures of the lowlands is found again in the mountain churches, even within the constraints of “centralized” types.
The Cypriot character of much of the island’s construction after its reintegration with the Empire is typified by the church of St. Nicholas of the Roof, a monument generally ascribed to the late tenth or early eleventh century on the basis of its fresco decoration. St. Nicholas is set high in the Troodos mountains well above the village of Kakopetria. Its size and location reflect its monastic function. The form of the structure has much in common with the cross-in-square type so familiar in Middle Byzantine architecture: a central domed bay, barrel-vaulted cross arms, and low corner bays (figs. 3.10 and 3.11). Sometime after its construction, the church was covered by a massive timber pitched roof for protection against the heavy winter snows. It is from this feature that the church received its epithet. St. Nicholas is distinguished by a number of other nonmetropolitan features. The dome is conical in section rather than spherical; instead of four central columns, the church has heavy, oblong piers; longitudinal barrel vaults, rather than groin vaults or cupolas, cover the corner bays; the delicate delineation of architectural forms with ordered blind arches and cornices, which characterizes a Constantinopolitan church like Bodrum Camii (fig. 2.7), is totally absent in St. Nicholas. Further, the Cypriot monument lacks additional sanctuary bays and, originally, it had no narthex. As in the lowland churches, neither the west end nor the east end of the church was complex in plan: The central apse is flanked only by niches, not by proper apses. More basically, the plan and elevation of the church are highly irregular and the fabric is extremely rough. The heavy murality of St. Nicholas, emphasized by its small punctured windows, contrasts dramatically with the open, skeletal conception of a Constantinopolitan church like the Bo- drum Camii. Although the plan of St. Nicholas suggests direct or indirect influence from outside Cyprus, its regional features are striking: Its longitudinal bias despite its centralized form, its organic irregularity, and its broad proportions bespeak the rootedness of the local building tradition.
If the structure of St. Nicholas embodies regional particularity, the fresco decoration of the church expresses the idiom of the Empire. The first phase of frescoes in the church indicates that the artist was acquainted with metropolitan developments of the late tenth or early eleventh century (fig. 3.12). The extensive olive- green modeling of the figures’ flesh, in addition to their stocky proportions, gives them a certain physicality, which, however, is contradicted by the painter’s inorganic handling of transitions between body parts and by the pooled highlights which lay on the surface of the painting. The closest analogies with this work are offered by early eleventh-century frescoes in Cappadocia in Direkli Kilise (dated by inscription to 979-1012) and the Triconch of Tagar. All these monumental works have features in common with metropolitan manuscript illumination of the period, for example, the scenes from the life of David from the early eleventh-century psalter in Venice (Marc. gr. 17). The extensive remains of this first phase indicate that St. Nicholas was adorned with the familiar Middle Byzantine program: An orant Virgin and flanking angels in military garb occupy the conch of the apse; a few of the original complement of single saints adorn the lower reaches of the walls of the church; and in the east and west barrel vaults are, respectively, the Ascension and Pentecost and the Raising of Lazarus and Entry into Jerusalem. The unified decoration of the katholikon in a single phase suggests that the monastery was founded by either a single patron or several donors coordinating their contributions. This arrangement contrasts dramatically with the earliest phases of decoration in St. Anthony at Kellia—a series of ex-votos, painted and repainted, most probably for individual patrons in their village church.
In the late eleventh or early twelfth century a superb proskynesis panel (image of veneration) representing St. Nicholas was painted on the walled-in west arch of the southeast bay, directly to the right of the entrance to the sanctuary (fig. 3.13). The style of this work allows it to be ascribed to a master who worked elsewhere in Cyprus in the late eleventh or early twelfth century. Also in the twelfth century, a narthex was appended to the church. The interruption of the blind niches on the west wall of the nave by the pier responds of the narthex vaults shows that the narthex is a later addition. It was decorated with an extensive Last Judgment (fragments survive in the vault of the north bay) and a carefully executed panel of the Virgin and Child (to the left of the entrance into the church). At the same time, a number of images were also added in the nave, including a panel of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. These vigorous images were rendered in a mode abstracted from that represented by the St. Nicholas panel. The appearance of these later images at Kakopetria indicates that the monastery flourished through the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The shaping of the program of the church to ascetic concerns—the prominence of monastic saints and the appearance of a monumental Last Judgment, as well as the donor’s portrait—suggests that it was determined by the monks themselves rather than a lay patron. Like the much more dramatic statement of monastic interests in the decoration of the Hermitage of St. Neophytus at the end of the twelfth century, it may indicate a certain independence of central, secular authority and of the laity whose interests were so closely bound up in it.
St. Nicholas of the Roof is one of the few monuments with painted decoration surviving from the period between the Byzantine reconquest and the assumption of imperial power by Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), a member of the military aristocracy and founder of the Comnenian dynasty. After returning to the capital, Manuel was finally able to make good his promise when the emperor’s daughter and then the emperor himself fell sick from the same illness that had nearly caused his own death. When the emperor agreed to Manuel’s petition to have the famous image sent to Cyprus, he and his daughter were immediately healed. Manuel and the emperor attempted to placate Esaias with icons they had painted for him in Constantinople, but only the authentic relic would do. Both also made other contributions toward the founding of Kykko.
There can be little doubt that there was increased metropolitan interest in Cyprus in the early twelfth century. After the suppression of Rhapsomates’ rebellion, Alexius I took steps to strengthen the island’s defenses by having a series of fortresses built in the Kyrenia range. The plans and even in some cases the building materials of the churches built in these fortresses appear to have been imported to the island. In the fortress of St. Hilar ion, built near the port of Kyrenia where Rhapsomates once gathered his troops to attack the Byzantines, are the ruins of a sizable domed-octagon church. The nave of this church is oblong in plan, converted at vault level into an irregular octagon by squinches and covered with a large dome. To the east is a triple-apsed sanctuary; a skewed rectangular narthex was added to the west at a later date. Although no less irregular in plan than many Cypriot churches, the interior space of this structure is much more carefully articulated than most structures on the island: Engaged columnar piers supported the squinches; arches were ordered; windows, like the double-light in the sanctuary, were large. This refinement was made possible through the use in the superstructure of considerable amounts of brick, a material whose linear and decorative properties were fully exploited in Byzantium. Many of the architectural features of the church are foreign to Cypriot building tradition. Its plan, despite its elongation and unevenness, is uncompromisingly centralized. Its open, domed nucleus is related generically to that of the Nea Moni on Chios, built in the middle of the eleventh century by Constantinopolitan architects and funded by the Emperor Constantine Monomachus (1042-55), a ruler criticized by Psellus for the architectural extravagances of another centralized domed building, St, George of Manganas. The building material—brick laid in thick mortar beds—is equally uncommon on the island. The fabric gives an impression similar to the popular recessed brick technique, which is associated broadly, though not exclusively, with metropolitan construction of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This technique, in which alternative layers of brick are set back from the wall surface and concealed by pointing, occurs, for example, in Chios, in the cistern of the Nea Moni, as well as in churches modeled on the katholikon, such as the Panagia Krina. In its plan and in details of its execution, the church in the fortress of St. Hilarion represents an intrusion on the architectural tradition of the island. Its nonlocal character and military context suggest that its construction was part of the imperial consolidation of the area.
St. Nicholas of the Roof is one of the few monuments with painted decoration surviving from the period between the Byzantine reconquest and the assumption of imperial power by Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), a member of the military aristocracy and founder of the Comnenian dynasty.
There can be little doubt that there was increased metropolitan interest in Cyprus in the early twelfth century. After the suppression of Rhapsomates’ rebellion, Alexius I took steps to strengthen the island’s defenses by having a series of fortresses built in the Kyrenia range. The plans and even in some cases the building materials of the churches built in these fortresses appear to have been imported to the island. In the fortress of St. Hilar ion, built near the port of Kyrenia where Rhapsomates once gathered his troops to attack the Byzantines, are the ruins of a sizable domed-octagon church. The nave of this church is oblong in plan, converted at vault level into an irregular octagon by squinches and covered with a large dome. To the east is a triple-apsed sanctuary; a skewed rectangular narthex was added to the west at a later date. Although no less irregular in plan than many Cypriot churches, the interior space of this structure is much more carefully articulated than most structures on the island: Engaged columnar piers supported the squinches; arches were ordered; windows, like the double-light in the sanctuary, were large. This refinement was made possible through the use in the superstructure of considerable amounts of brick, a material whose linear and decorative properties were fully exploited in Byzantium. Many of the architectural features of the church are foreign to Cypriot building tradition. Its plan, despite its elongation and unevenness, is uncompromisingly centralized. Its open, domed nucleus is related generically to that of the Nea Moni on Chios, built in the middle of the eleventh century by Constantinopolitan architects and funded by the Emperor Constantine Monomachus (1042-55), a ruler criticized by Psellus for the architectural extravagances of another centralized domed building, St, George of Manganas. The building material—brick laid in thick mortar beds—is equally uncommon on the island. The fabric gives an impression similar to the popular recessed brick technique, which is associated broadly, though not exclusively, with metropolitan construction of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This technique, in which alternative layers of brick are set back from the wall surface and concealed by pointing, occurs, for example, in Chios, in the cistern of the Nea Moni, as well as in churches modeled on the katholikon, such as the Panagia Krina. In its plan and in details of its execution, the church in the fortress of St. Hilarion represents an intrusion on the architectural tradition of the island. Its nonlocal character and military context suggest that its construction was part of the imperial consolidation of the area.
The fortress church of St. Hilarion is not the only monument which bears witness to the extension of central power at the end of the eleventh century. From what was recorded before its destruction, the katholikon of the monastery of St. Chrysostomos near Koutsouvendis, also in the Kyrenia range, was similar in its form to the church at St. Hilarion (fig. 3.14). The dome of the surviving single- aisled paiekklesion of the Holy Trinity, which abutted the south wall of the katholikon and appears to have been contemporary with it, is constructed in cloisonn6 brickwork. This technique, in which brick is laid in decorative patterns within thick mortar beds, is foreign to Cyprus but common in Greece, Macedonia, and Constantinople. The Nea Moni, whose visible fabric is cloisonne, is atttributed on the basis of a textual tradition to masons sent from Constantinople. Like the church in the fortress of St. Hilarion, the monastery of St. Chrysostomos is closely connected with Comnenian rule. An inscription that survives in the paiekklesion on the southeast pier, next to the sanctuary, identifies the donor of the church as Eumathius Philokales, who was dux of Cyprus between 1092 and 1103 and again from about 1110 to before 1118. The typikon of this foundation indicates that the monastery was established by a certain abbot George in December 1090. This suggests that the construction and decoration of the church took place in the first period of Eumathius’s governorship. The work attests to the fact that representatives of the state made spiritual investments in the regions to which they were assigned.
These structures seem to have had an attraction for local builders, perhaps because of their metropolitan associations: The centralized plan represented by the churches of St. Hilarion and Koutsouvendis appeared in regional variations. Best known of these versions are the katholikon of the monastery of the Apsinthiotissa and the katholikon of the monastery of Christ Antiphonites, both in Kyrenia range.The Apsinthiotissa had a central dome supported on six piers rather than eight engaged columns. The church of Christ Antiphonites retains the support system of eight columnar piers, but the octagon is distorted into an ovoidal shape. Both monuments, which are constructed with traditional Cypriot masonry techniques, indicate how readily a foreign building type might be locally assimilated.
Architecture was not the only artistic importation of the late eleventh century. As might be expected, metropolitan ideas in monumental painting seem to have been introduced on the island concurrently with a new church type at the monastery of St. Chrysostomos. The figural decoration of theparekklesion survives only in a fragmentary form, Remains of an Anastasis, a Crucifixion, and a Koimesis show an eschatological bias appropriate for a funerary or commemorative chapel. According to Mango and Hawkins, the quality of these fresco fragments is extremely high—elegantly proportioned figures realized in bright pastels subtly modulated by white washes and set off by a dark blue ground (fig. 3.15). The appearance in Cyprus of this style of painting in a church which is foreign in its building type and materials and which has a patron associated with the capital suggests that the master working at Koutsouvendis may also have been imported to the island. Such a hypothesis can perhaps be further refined through reference to work outside Cyprus. The St. Chrysostomos frescoes seem to be distinct stylistically from works of the late eleventh or early twelfth century, such as those of the Assunta at Tbrcello, the Church of the Archangel Michael at Kiev, and the katholikon at Daphni, which have been linked to Constantinopolitan practice. They more closely resemble decorative programs, arguably of metropolitan origin, of the middle of the eleventh century: St. Sophia in Kiev, the Nea Moni in Chios, and St. Sophia in Ohrid. It might even be conjectured that the St. Chrysostomos master was trained in the mid-eleventh century and only in his later maturity came to work on Cyprus.
The painting in the paiekklesion of St. Chrysostomos is similar to the piosky- nesis image in St. Nicholas of the Roof, suggesting that a master, once in a province, might remain there, finding employment from other patrons. The Chrysostomos master seems to have had an even wider effect on Cypriot painting through the agency of an artist, perhaps his apprentice, associated with him at Chrysostomos. A simplified version of the Chrysostomos style occurs in the same monastery. In the ossuary just below the monastery there is the image of the Lamentation Over the Dead Christ as well as single figures of saints. The palette of these frescoes is more limited and the style of the figures is more schematized than that in the paiekklesion, but the paintings retain an impressive monumentality.
The same painting style that occurs in the mortuary chapel of St. Chrysostomos is found, more fully preserved, in another mountain church, the Panagia Phorbiotissa at Asinou, located above the village of Niketari in the Troodos foothills. This church is extremely rich epigraphically. The portrait of the donor, Ni- cephorus, magistios, with his church in his hands, accompanied by a woman (probably a family member) who died in 1099, was repainted in the fifteenth century. Another inscription again names Nicephorus as donor and provides a dedication date of 1105/6 for the church. Nicephorus is mentioned once more in a prayer inscribed in the apse. Here is a man who wished to be remembered. Nicephorus’s title, magistios, had been thoroughly debased by the end of the eleventh century; it virtually disappeared in the twelfth. From a note in a synaxaiion (calendar of feasts) which belonged to the monastery (Paris gr. 1590), it appears that Nicephorus later became a monk in the monastery, adopting the name Nicholas, before he died in 1115.
Nicephorus seems to have been a local figure with considerable social pretension. He had the means to found a monastery, but it was a small one. The chinch is an architecturally unassuming single-nave structure of three bays, each of which is barrel-vaulted. There is no reason to believe that it ever had a domed eastern bay, as is sometimes postulated. Its fabric is mortared rubble, fieldstone laid in friable mortar, originally concealed with a stucco facing (incised to resemble large ashlar blocks) and decorated with red zigzags. The miming of ashlar in the mountains of the Troodos perhaps indicates that well-cut limestone masonry was the material of greatest local status. The prestigiousness of certain building materials is also evidenced in other provinces by patrons imitating them in cheaper substances. The local character of the Panagia—recognizable in its longitudinal bias, its heavy masonry, and its broad proportions—is confirmed by the popularity of similar plans on the island. The three-bayed, single-nave church, with or without a dome over the central bay, is one of the most common types in twelfth-century Cyprus. It is found, for instance, at Perachorio, Pelendri, Lagoudera, Kato Lefkara, Kaliana (in its original form), and Monagri, as well as in the parekklesion of St. Chrysostomos.
Like the nartheces of so many other churches in Cyprus, that of the Panagia Phorbiotissa was added later in the twelfth century The plaster layer on which the ashlar pattern of the facade was incised extends under the narthex wall abutting the nave. This not only establishes the fact that the decorative facing layer was part of the original structure but also that the narthex was a later addition. The narthex is architecturally more complex than the nave of the church. It has lateral conches and a domed central bay. It is also built from relatively well-dressed limestone (the masonry of the main south facade is more carefully cut and coursed than that of the north or west faces). A terminus ante quem for the construction of the narthex is provided by the late twelfth-century fresco of the mounted St. George, which blocks its south entrance (fig. 3.16). This spectacular statement of knightly virtue was the ex-voto of the horse-tamer Nicephorus. The construction of the narthex and the quality of some of the frescoes adorning it attest to the relatively stable afterlife of the magistros Nicephorus’s foundation.
If the initial phase of construction of the Panagia Phorbiotissa does not adequately convey the patron’s pretensions, the frescoes do. This minute church retains much of its original program: the Communion of the Apostles and the bishops below them on the wall of the apse; the Virgin and Archangel of the Annunciation on either side of the triumphal arch, with Mary the Egyptian and Zosi- mos below; and the feast scenes in the west end of the nave, including the Raising of Lazarus, Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper, Washing of the Feet, Ascension, Pentecost, and Koimesis (fig. 3.17). It is tempting to reconstruct the program of Asinou with scenes from the Infancy cycle in the west bay (where there are now fourteenth-century frescoes) and the Pantokrator either there or in the conch of the sanctuary apse. The relatively little emphasis given to monastic holy men, like Nicephorus’s repetitious appearance in inscriptions, suggests that the lay patron rather than a hegoumenos (abbot) selected the images to be depicted in the church.
The images in the church at Asinou are rendered with grave simplicity in the style similar to that found in the ossuary at St. Chrysostomos. The principal characters have a certain monumental presence at the front of the picture plane. Subsidiary figures are smaller and kept to a minimum number. There is a restrained emotional expressiveness in these figures. For example, the gestures of the apostles in the Koimesis are evocative of intense emotion, but except for tragic, linear tear lines, the figures are only decorously dramatic in their expressions of grief (see fig. 3.17). The ground is a subdued blue, with an equally low-saturation green for the baseline; these recessive colors provide a striking contrast for the bright pastels of the figures and their few landscape and architectural props. An intense red is also used extensively for drapery and decorative features. There is a sense of the compositions being larger than the small and sometimes irregular architectural spaces they adorn.
The Mavriotissa monastery in Macedonia provides perhaps the closest visual analogy to Asinou. The master of the Mavriotissa employs a heavier, less flexible outline and more abstracted drapery patterns than does the painter at Asinou, but the Macedonian monument does share certain iconographic features with that in Cyprus. The scene of the Koimesis in both monuments represents at an early date the holy women as bust-length figures in arcaded buildings behind the bier of the Virgin. In both images the artist makes an attempt to depict explicitly the deep emotions of the figures in the scene. Typical too of the frescoes both in Macedonia and Cyprus is a modal duality in the treatment of the figures: The physiognomies of the isolated saints on the lower walls are treated in considerably greater detail than those of the figures in the narrative panels. It would seem that the Asinou frescoes bear the same relationship to the work in the parekklesion at Koutsouvendis, as do the frescoes in the Mavriotissa monastery in Kastoria to the painting in the cathedral at Ohrid. Both seem to represent the impressive provincial development of a metropolitan-inspired style. It appears that the magistros Nicephorus provided his foundation with funds enough for its construction and comprehensive decoration. The multiplication of votive images from the end of the twelfth century on suggests that the monastery was later sustained through multiple small benefactions. This is perhaps indicative of changed economic circumstances on the island.
Apparently Nicephorus was not the only Cypriote who wished to engage an artist working in a style associated with monuments founded by high-ranking imperial emissaries. The Asinou master’s work is found in many other churches on the island, including the Panagia Theotokos at Trikomo, Sts. Joachim and Anna at Kaliana, and the Panagia Amasgou at Monagri. A number of icons in the collection of St. Catherine on Sinai are also related to the Asinou frescoes. These panel paintings also attest to material and spiritual links between Cypms and the Holy Land formed after the success of the First Crusade.

Cyprus 5

THE LATER TWELFTH CENTURY
Despite the appearance of certain forms of political independence, metropolitan artistic production continued to affect provincial practice through the late twelfth century. The usurpation of power on the island by Isaac Comnenus, grand nephew of the Emperor Manuel, between 1184 and 1191 does not appear to have undermined the cultural authority of the imperial core. This is evident in the coins minted by the despot in Cyprus, which are difficult to distinguish from those of the Emperor Isaac II Angelus (1185-95; 1203-4). It is also indicated by the successful solicitations for grants and exemptions made by the hegoumenos of the Machaeras monastery from Emperor Isaac П in Constantinople. Cypriot church decoration in the later twelfth century also attests to an awareness of shifts in metropolitan notions of decoration. Indeed, formal changes in late twelfth- century Cypriot frescoes are analogous to developments that can be seen not only elsewhere in Byzantium but also beyond its political borders, from Sicily to Russia. Trends in painting style in the second half of the twelfth century were clearly outlined and expressively characterized by Demus, Weitzmann, and Kitzinger decades ago. Certain questions remain: How were artistic ideas disseminated? And what are the historical implications of their assimilation in the provinces?
The type of patron generated by the highly centralized bureaucratic Byzantine state must have played an important role in this phenomenon: patronage for Cypriot foundations continued to come on occasion from the highest social levels. Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143-80), whose interests in the arts are well known, apparently invested spiritually in the island. According to the typikon of 1210 of the Machaeras monastery, the emperor generously answered the petition of the monks Ignatius and Procopius with a land grant and annual endowment for the establishment of the monastery, a foundation second only to Kykko in importance on Cyprus. Although nothing remains of the medieval foundation, it is tempting to suggest that this direct link with Constantinople stimulated the importation of artists from the capital, Three monuments—the Church of the Archangel at Kato Lefkara, the Panagia tou Arakos at Lagoudera, and the Encleistra of St. Neophytus—exemplify late Comnenian developments on Cyprus. The unpublished church at Kato Lefkara, a mountain town known for its manufacture of fine lace, is typical of Cypriot church architecture of the period.®5 It is a simple single-nave space with a central dome raised on a high drum; the east and west bays are barrel-vaulted. The east bay of the church is its sanctuary, with a single central apse flanked by niches cut into the thickness of the wall. The fabric is fieldstone, though parts of the structure, such as the quoins of the arches, were executed in roughly dressed stone. There is virtually no exterior articulation; on the interior the base of the drum and the springing of the sanctuary conch are marked by simple cornices, and the main arches have a single order. As in the case of the church at Asinou, the simplicity of the sanctuary arrangements, the dominant longitudinal axis of the structure, and the construction techniques all emphasize the local nature of the architecture of this church. There is here, however, a deviation from traditional Cypriot architectural practice: Arches in the church are pointed (as they are also at Lagoudera). Pointed arches appear widely in Cyprus only in the second half of the twelfth century, a development that apparently corresponds with the formalization of trading relations with the Levant.
If the architecture of Kato Lefkara embodies strong local traditions modified only slightly by practice on the mainland, its frescoes show a striking familiarity with current metropolitan theological notions, as indicated by the appearance on the apse wall of the holy bishops officiating before Christ-Amnos. This dogmatic image is not only a visual statement concerning the literalness of Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist, but it is also an expression of the centralized control of theological discussion. Although this iconography is known elsewhere in the Empire in the twelfth century, the image at Kato Lefkara is the theme’s only monumental occurrence on Cyprus in the twelfth century of which I am aware. The rest of the fresco decoration of the church, as it can be reconstructed’from the few remaining fragments, also conforms to the pervasive hierarchical program. Although the central roundel of the dome is now destroyed, the processing angels of the next register and the prophets holding scrolls in the drum suggest that it contained the bust of the Pantokrator (fig* 3.19). In the apse was a standing Virgin; below the conch in an oddly narrow register appears the Communion of the Apostles. Christological images (Nativity, Presentation of Christ at the Temple, Baptism, and Raising of Lazarus) were depicted in small panels in the south lunette. Instead of exploiting a structurally defined space exclusively for a single monumental image, the artist divided the wall surface into a number of quadratic units. This multiplication of the number of Christological scenes is broadly typical of a late trend in Byzantine wall painting.

Cyprus 4

The paintings in Kato Lefkara are related to the well-published frescoes of the church of the Holy Apostles at Perachorio. The Perachorio decoration has been convincingly ascribed to the 1160s or 1170s on the basis of formal analogies with works elsewhere in the Empire. Both exhibit a change in the treatment of the picture plane. The narrow stage dominated by the figures placed upon it, characteristic of monumental images of the eleventh and early twelfth century, is superseded by a deeper field. Figures no longer have the same authority within the space they occupy, but they enjoy a greater freedom of movement. In the Perachorio Communion of the Apostles, for example, there is a sense of foreground and middle ground in which the apostles convivially circulate (fig. 3.20). But for all their similarities, the frescoes at Kato Lefkara are more brittle than those at Perachorio. A comparison of the lower body of one of the surviving prophets from the drum of Kato Lefkara with the foremost apostle in the Communion at Perachorio shows how drapery folds are ornamentally multiplied and more angular. The elegance of line at Kato Lefkara perhaps compensates for a loss of the figural robustness found at Perachorio. This linear elaboration is one of the principal Morellian characteristics of late twelfth-century painting. Its appearance at Kato Lefkara in conjunction with equally current programmatic features suggests that the patron of this small church was in a position to have it decorated according to the latest fashion. Above the south entrance to the church is a refined representation of the Mandylion, the cloth on which Christ’s portrait was miraculously preserved. The image is enframed by a red border, on the lower side of which is the fragmentary remains of a dedicatory inscription. All that remains of the date is the month of October,- all that remains of what was presumably the identification of the donor is part of his title, sakellarios. The title sakellarios could be one of considerable eminence, as it was given to officials in the patriarchate and at court. The imperial office seems to have been eclipsed between 1145 and 1186, and it disappears completely after the fall of Constantinople to the Latins in 1204. But a sakellarios might also be attached to a provincial see. Whether or not the patron was counted among Constantinopolitan elite, his church was fashionably decorated.
The same accessibility to metropolitan artistic concepts is displayed in the church of the Panagia tou Arakos. This monastic foundation, located above the village of Lagoudera, like the church at Kato Lefkara, is a single-aisled structure with a dome over the main bay Also like the monument at Kato Lefkara, masons have employed slightly pointed arches; here too the narthex is a later addition to the nave. The church is built of local stone, with brick used in the arches; it was later covered with a massive roof, which masks its typically Cypriot profile, to protect it from the winter snows. Judging from its architectural form, it seems likely that the Panagia tou Arakos was built in the third quarter of the twelfth century The original founder of the structure is unidentified. This patron provided the church only with a partial decoration; in the conch of the sanctuary apse is an enthroned Virgin and Child flanked by angels, with two registers of frontal bishops on the wall below (fig. 3.21). The artist used an unusually luminescent green for his underpainting, which is visible where the overpainting has bubbled and flaked. The same vibrant bright green was also used as the underpainting in an isolated image of an enthroned figure flanked by angels which originally appeared on the nave wall to the south of the bema. The patron of the initial decoration appears to have dedicated his limited means to iconic images. This first painting phase is given a terminus ante quem by the frescoes, dated by inscription to 1192, which were subsequently painted over the enthroned figure at the east end of the nave.
The patron of the second phase of painting at Lagoudera identified himself twice in the church. A dedicatory inscription on the south wall, again with the Mandylion, gives the date of this decoration:
The most venerable church of the most Holy Mother of God of Arakos was painted through the benefaction and great ardor of lord Leo tou Authentos in the month of December, indiction 11 of the year 6701 [1192].
On the north wall, accompanying a standing Virgin and Child, is a further inscription in which Leo again takes credit for the decoration of the church. The inscription takes the form of a verse addressed to the Virgin:
He who has formed your image in perishable colors, all pure Mother of God, Leo, the poor and worthless suppliant, surnamed tou Authentos from his father, along with his wife and fellow servant,. . request faithfully and with countless tears that they may find a happy ending to the remainder of their life, with their fellow servants and children thy suppliants and that they may find an end among the saved, for you alone О Virgin has glory..
The principal donor, Leo, is a pious layman apparently of only local standing. The lack of titles in his long address to the Virgin suggests that he did not have any. Nevertheless, the fresco ensemble he subsidized remains one of the most impressive to survive from twelfth-century Byzantium. In contrast to the church at Kato Lefkara, the scenes are allocated architecturally defined spaces, assuring them a certain monumentality. A magnificent Pantokrator in the dome, surrounded by busts of archangels and standing prophets, holds dominion in the interior. Below is a Christological cycle which reflects, in its Mariological bias (Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple, Annunciation, Nativity, PresentaFiG. 3.22. Lagoudera, Panagia tou Arakos. View into the central vault with the Pantokrator in the cupola (Dumbarton Oaks, Center for Byzantine Studies, Washington, D.C.)tion of Christ at the Temple, and Koimesis), the same devotion to the Virgin that is expressed by the donor in the nave inscriptions. The Baptism, Ana- stasis, and Ascension are represented, but the Passion is notably underemphasized. To the left of the apse, the Virgin Paraklesis addresses a prayer to her Son, on the opposite pier. A pair of portable icons representing the Panagia Arakiotissa and Christ, painted by the same hand as the frescoes, also emphasizes the intercessory role of the Theotokos in this church. Like the Sinai icons associated with the Asinou master, this pair of panels, now in the archbishop’s palace in Nicosia, indicates that an artist did not necessarily live by monumental commissions alone. Military saints appear only in medallions in the arches; the apotropaic Mandy- lion, which is depicted at the apex of the triumphal arch, as well as on the south wall, is very prominent. Cypriot tradition is reflected in the positioning of Barnabas and probably Epiphanius, the island’s patron saints, between the windows in the apse, as in Asinou and Perachorio. These features, in addition to the emphasis on blessed ascetics, reinforce the impression given by the inscription that Leo was a local figure, who did not entrust his spiritual or material well-being to the military establishment. Perhaps this represents a natural reaction to the conquest of the island by the Crusaders the previous year.
Whatever realignment of spiritual priorities might have taken place among the local well-to-do in the wake of the Latin occupation of the island, the style of the frescoes at Lagoudera suggests that artistic production on the island was still within the cultural sphere of Constantinople. The style of these frescoes is most clearly expressed in the elongated, uninhibited figures which inhabit the narrative scenes. Their drapery, like their self-conscious posing, is complex, with decorative, repetitive S-curves rendered in a calligraphic play of outline and highlight. Color is bright, strong, and ornamental. The linear elegance of the paintings of the second phase of painting at Lagoudera associates it intimately with the final phase of Comnenian art. ” The appearance of this sophisticated painting style in a small church in Cyprus patronized apparently by a man of only local importance requires some explanation. David Winfield, who worked for a number of years on the cleaning and restoration of the frescoes and who is preparing the final publication of the monument, interpreted a now-fragmentary inscription on the scene of the Baptism as the signature of the artist: “Remember, О Lord, Thy slave, Theodore, the erring monk and painter of this church.”4-‘ Winfield argues that the artist at Lagoudera was the painter Theodore Apseudes, who had labored nearly a decade earlier in the Encleistra of St. Neophytus, located in the foothills of the Troodos above Paphos. Although the reading of this inscription is problematic, the stylistic connections between the frescoes of the nave of Lagoudera and those of the Encleistra are close enough to warrant the hypothesis that they were painted by the same master.
The original Encleistra of St. Neophytus remains largely intact: The saint’s cell and tomb, the oratory (later bema), and naos of the church all survive. The Encleistra was decorated in two main phases, both of which seem to have been executed during Neophytus’s lifetime. The paintings of the first phase, found largely in the cell and in the bema, are dated by inscription to 1183 and signed by Theodore Apseudes. The images include the Anastasis, two Crucifixions, Ascension, Annunciation, a Deesis, standing bishops in the apse, monks on the west wall, and military saints in roundels. The images of St. Stephen the Younger and the enthroned Christ (originally part of a second Deesis?) in the naos flanking the entrance into the bema seem also to be a part of this phase. In 1196 the nave was further excavated and then decorated by a second artist. The vaults were adorned with an elaborate Passion cycle, and holy monks were depicted on the walls.
Theodore’s frescoes, especially those in the saint’s cell, have a delicacy reminiscent of miniature painting. The attenuated figures are lyrically unsubstantial. Characteristic of the painter’s style are unnaturally elaborate details, such as the intestinelike treatment of Christ’s fluttering drapery in the scene of the Anastasis (fig. 3.24). These mannerisms become increasingly rigid in the more repetitive images of the holy monks in the sanctuary. The frescoes in the nave of Lagoudera appear to represent a farther schematization of the artist’s personal style. It seems at least possible that Theodore came to Cyprus, worked at the Encleistra, and later, as a monk, completed the decoration of the Virgin Arakou at Lagoudera.
The typikon of the Encleistra provides the historical context of the monument’s decoration. Neophytus, evidently bom of peasant stock, became a monk at St. Chrysostomos instead of marrying, taught himself how to read and write, and then went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After returning to Cyprus, Neophytus decided to seek his spiritual betterment as a hermit on Mount Latmos. While awaiting passage at Paphos, he was robbed of his fare. Penniless, he retreated into the hills behind the city and established a hermitage in a cave. His saintliness later came to the attention of Basil Cinnamus, bishop of Paphos, perhaps a scion of the same famous family as the historian John Cinnamus. It was Basil who provided funds for the extension and decoration of the rock-cut Encleistra some twenty-eight years after its establishment. While protesting land donations, Neophytus accepted financial aid for the ornamentation of the monastery. Such a situation is not untypical of monastic practice in Byzantium. Basil might well have been in a position to import to Cyprus an artist from the capital and thus determine the style and quality of the frescoes of the Encleistra.
The spiritual as well as the historical setting of the Encleistra can be reconstructed with the help of its typikon, which provides a rare insight into the psychology of a medieval patron and conventions of spirituality in the twelfth century. The desire for individual salvation through ascetic practice which it embodies stands in stark contrast with the concern with salvation through good works characteristic of documents written by wealthy lay patrons. Both modes of spirituality are equally self-interested. Neophytus’s idiosyncratic self-absorption, so well characterized by Cyril Mango, as well as his ascetic concerns, is startlingly mirrored in the arrangement and decoration of his cave complex. The typikon shows clearly how seriously Neophytus took religious accoutrements: He wrote lovingly of his books, relics, and icons. The same personal concern is reflected in the subject matter of the fresco ornament of his foundation. Neophytus’s visit to Jerusalem in search of a relic of the True Cross may be alluded to in the unusual iconography of the Annunciation over the door between the cell and the bema, in which Christ Emmanuel appears between the figures of the Virgin and Gabriel. According to pilgrims’ descriptions, this same arrangement occurred on the sanctuary arch of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The program of the Encleistra is also monastic in its specific content and in its underlying eschatological nature. The monastic bias of the cycle is demonstrated by the prominence accorded to monastic saints. The walls of the nave are lined with holy monks, most of whom bear scrolls with inscriptions relevant to the life of an ascetic; they invade even the bema. The number and conspicuous placement of monks in the paintings of the Encleistra distinguish its program from that commonly found in Middle Byzantine churches, in which bishops and military martyrs have a position at least equal to that of the monks.
Neophytus’s eschatological preoccupations are enunciated in the invocation of his typikon: “Fear of God and the memory of Death are the greatest of all good things.” This concern is physically expressed in the double functioning of the cell as mausoleum—Neophytus’s tomb is opposite his bed. The program, with its almost exclusive emphasis on the Passion and post-Passion narrative, also shows an eschatological bias. Moreover, a number of the scenes treating death and resurrection are depicted more than once: The Crucifixion appears three times in the program; the Anastasis and Ascension are also repeated. The Deesis, the eschatological nature of which was discussed in chapter 2, appears prominently in the cell; it may also have been painted to the right of the opening into the sanctuary.
Most indicative of Neophytus’s personal supervision of the decoration of the church is found in the repetition and conspicuousness of the founder’s own image. Neophytus appears at the feet of Christ in the Deesis in his own cell and again in the sanctuary, being raised to heaven by angels, an image which in its hubris borders on heresy (fig. 3.25). Adam being lifted out of his sarcophagus by Christ in the scene of the Anastasis, an image which appears directly above Neophytus’s rock- hewn tomb, also looks suspiciously like the saint. Its analogical function thus becomes explicit. Neophytus’s portrait may also have been painted as part of the second main phase of decoration to the right of the entrance into the church. Even during his lifetime the saint associated himself with the godhead, appearing physically in the aureole of the ascending Christ in the ”dome” of the nave by means of a shaft which led to the saint’s retreat above the church.10-’ In all, the painting scheme of the Encleistra is unusually reflective of the personal interests of its holy founder. It may therefore be concluded that Neophytus was the author of the Encleistra’s painted program, just as he was the author of the foundation’s typikon. The holy man in this case, and not the wealthy donor, determined the message of the church’s ornament. Its idiosyncracies offer a dramatic example of how the familiar elements of the Middle Byzantine program might be manipulated to create a highly individualistic scheme within the parameters of commonly accepted universals. This deviation from standard practice is inherently a criticism of the ideology from which that practice arose. Neophytus’s church decoration, like his typikon, represents a reaction against formal hierarchies of power.
Late twelfth-century painting that survives in Cyprus is intimately related to contemporary monumental work elsewhere within Byzantium’s cultural sphere. The Crusader conquest of the island in 1191, however, marks a dramatic end to the Cypriots’ participation in the visual commonality of the Empire. Monumental painting by credible artists is still executed in Cyprus, as exemplified by frescoes of the second main phases of decoration at Neophytus (1196) and Monagri (early thirteenth century), the Church of St. Herakleidios of the monastery of St. John Lampadistis at Kalopanayiotis (first half of the thirteenth century), and the Panagia at Moutoullas (1280). But these works are regional in character; they are informed by earlier Cypriot paintings, not by contemporary Byzantine ones. Cyprus was no longer a Byzantine province, and its wall painting is no longer indicative of Byzantine provincial artistic production.