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Athos Holy Mount

Illuminated Manuscripts
5.30 Proskynetarion for the Holy Land
Gregoriou Cod. 159
Paper, 16 x 11 cm, ff. 27


The Original New Testament

This codex belongs to a category of manuscripts which remained unknown until recently owing to the fact that they have only been studied in the last few years. These are the Proskynetaria, illustrated traveller's handbooks or guides, which were very popular, especially in the post-Byzantine era. They describe the places of pilgrimage - mainly the Christian ones - in Palestine and were written for the use of the pilgrims who flocked there. Like the others in its group, this codex contains numerous miniatures, which are usually small in size and depict, in a generally conventional manner, with a decorative treatment and bright gay colours, the places of pilgrimage in Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land. It is also illuminated with numerous gold initials surrounded by rich flora decoration. It contains a description of the holy places, from which the beginning is missing. This starts with the holy city of Jerusalem and ends with the Monastery of St James ('of the Armenians'). The binding consists of brown leather with simple geometric patterns. The codex is well preserved. Its creator, i.e. scribe and illuminator, was the doctor Daniel, who was definitely responsible for another three, somewhat earlier, manuscripts in the same group: Docheiariou Cod. 129, Cod. gr. 15 of the Biblioteca Nazionale in Rome, and Cod. 121 of the Byzantine Museum in Athens.

Bibliography: Lambros 1900, pp. 470-1. Thesauroi 1973, pp. 485-7, figs. 470-98. Kadas 1977, pp. 369-432. Kadas 1985, pp. 1281-1302.

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