Manoogian Museum Loans Artifacts for the Armenia! exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

Three artifacts from the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum will be on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its Armenia! exhibit — on view from Saturday, September 22, 2018 to January 13,  2019. There will be 140 objects on view for the first time in the United States. The artifacts from the Manoogian Museum include the following.

L1988.63-for Panel.jpg

The 8th century reliquary hand of Saint Abulmuse (Acc.# L1988.63) within an 18th century reliquary case. 

Relics of the saints belong to the most highly venerated objects in Christianity. This amazing example opens onto a central chamber, where a bed of cotton wool holds four fingers. The relic is identified by an inscription running along the cuff of the hand on the back side of the object:

այս է ս՟բ մասու[ն]քըս
ս՟բն աբտուլմւսէ եօլ
մաչն ձ[ե]ռամբն տ՟ր սահ[ա]կին

These are the holy relics of
St. Abulmusē the [Plucker] 
by the hand of Tēr Sahak

The story of Saint Abdelmusē [Abdelmseh] tells that his name at birth was Aser as he was the scion of a Jewish family in Persia. He embraced Christianity and was christened as Abd-el Mseh [servant of Christ].  When he refused to renounce his newly found faith, his father killed him. An Eastern saint, his story was brought to Armenia by merchants; they also brought his relics to Armenia.

Saint Abdelmseh's day is celebrated on the last Monday before Great Lent, the fast before Easter, together with that of other saints. 


An 18th Century Ceramic Egg-Shaped Ornament (Acc. # L 1990.14)

This egg-shaped hanging ornament is decorated with various sized seraphim protecting the Virgin Mary enthroned, holding the Christ Child.  Small brownish-black crosses surround the object. The faces of the seraphim, the Virgin, and the Christ Child are delineated in brownish black.  Examples of these ceramic eggs abound in American, European, and Middle Eastern collections.

These egg-shaped ornaments are hung from the ceilings in Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches, as well as mosques.  

It has been proposed that the egg shape has a symbolic meaning, the egg being an ancient symbol of fertility.

The present example carries an inscription, which reads:  

[ ]կ է քոտահեացի ապրահամի ի այս է թօպս ս՟բ ա՟ծածին է 
[yishata]k e¯ k‘o taheats‘i aprahami I ays e¯ t‘o¯ps s(ur)b a(stua)tsatsin e¯

A memorial of Apraham of Kütahya is this sphere.
 [It ] is the Holy Mother of God.


An 18th Century Ceramic Hexagonal Tile with Architectural Scene (Acc. # L 1990.11)

This rare hexagonal tile represents a stylized Christian religious complex featuring a domed church with a double door, a belfry, and numerous other domes. It may represent a particular site, perhaps a church in Kütahya, the Patriarchate in Constantinople, or the convent of Saint James in Jerusalem. 

Upon all the semicircular domes stand crosses. There are arched windows in the drum of the main dome.

The various levels of the buildings are arcaded. The door of the main building is prominent, with its knocker or ring (halqa) clearly visible.

The representational approach recalls that of Ottoman topographical views found on maps and in historical texts and devotional books.      

For more information about the exhibit, visit the Metropolitan Museum website here.