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Manglisi, Murals of Sioni Cathedral

Building: Manglisi, Sioni Cathedral
Layer of the Murals: One Layer
Date/Period: First half of 11th century
Donor(s): Supposedly Giorgi I, the king of Georgia (1014-1027)
Painter(s): Unknown
Building Gallery


of the Donor(s)
of the Painter(s)


Presently, murals have survived only in the dome, while the rest of the areas of the interior were covered with plastering of the 19th century. Conservation of the painting in the dome was carried out in the 1950s and in 2012.



Ascension of the Cross is depicted in the dome sphere. The cross set with precious stones and raised by four angels is encircled in a three-ply aureole. The archangels are holding the mandorla in one hand, and the other hands are rested towards the beholder. The explanatory inscription can be identified only in the eastern pair of archangels, next to the angel depicted on the north-east; two similar inscriptions are executed near the figure of St. Archangel Raphael Ⴐ(Ⴀ)Ⴔ(ႨႤ)ႪRaphael.

Personification of the sun is depicted on the southern panel of the vault in the form of a youth mounted on a lion (Ⴋ~ႦႤ – Sun) holding a horn of abundance in two hands.

A composition of the Deesis and eight figures of prophets are distributed in the drum so that the whole area between two windows are occupied only by the Savior; the rest of the figures are represented in pairs on the areas between the windows.

In the composition of the Deesis depicted north of the east window Christ ((ησο)ς Χ(ριστ)ς Jesus Christ) is seated on the throne, with His right hand raised on the side in blessing and an open codex on the knee (John 10:11). The figures of the Virgin (Μ(ήτη)ρ || Θ(εο)Mother of God) and St. John the Baptist (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ || Ⴢ(ႭႠႬ)Ⴄ ႬႠႧႪ(Ⴈ)Ⴑ|ႫႺႤႫႤႪჂ – Saint John the Baptist) are situated on two sides of the Savior, on two different sections.

The prophets are represented frontally with full body; they are blessing with the right hand and holding unfolded scrolls in the left. The prophets are situated in pairs, clockwise, in the following order: St. Isaiah the Prophet (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ ႤႱჂႠSaint Isaiah); with an inscription on the scroll (Isaiah 11:1)); St. Jeremiah the Prophet (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ || ჂႤႰႫႠSaint Jeremiah) and St. Ezekiel the Prophet (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ || Ⴄ[Ⴆ(Ⴄ)Ⴉ(ႨႤ)Ⴊ] Saint Ezekiel) (the multi-line text on their scrolls cannot be identified); St. Jonah the Prophet ([Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ] || ჂႭႬႠSaint Jonah) with an inscription on the scroll (Jonah 2:8); St. Daniel the Prophet (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | Ⴃ(Ⴀ)Ⴌ(ႨႤ)|ႪSaint Daniel) with an inscription on the scroll (Daniel, 9:10), St. Hosea the Prophet (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ || ႭႱႨႤSaint Hosea); the text on the scrolls is not identifiable), St. Amos the Prophet (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ || ႠႫ()Saint Amos). It is impossible to identify the thirteen-line text on the scroll) and St. David the Prophet (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ || Ⴃ(ႠႥႨ)ႧSaint David); with a text on the scroll (Ps. 44:7).

The murals in the dome and the drum are separated from each other by a narrow ornamental band.


Shalva Amiranashvili, Istorija gruzinskoj srednevekovoj monumental’noj zhivopisi [History of Medieval Georgian Monumental Painting] I (Tbilisi, 1957), 106.

Teimuraz Barnaveli, Manglisis tadzris ts’arts’erebi [Inscriptions from Manglisi Cathedral] (Tbilisi, 1961), 22–32.

Tinatin Virsaladze, “Rospis’ kupola manglisskogo sobora” [“Murals in the Dome of Manglisi Cathedral”], in Tezisy dokladov sessii posvjashchennoj istorii zhivopisi stran Afriki i Azii [Abstracts of the Papers of the Conference Dedicated to the History of Painting in African and Asian Countries] (Leningrad, 1965), 25–7.

Malak’ia Dvali, Manglisis khurot’modzghvruli dzegli [Manglisi Architectural Monument] (Tbilisi, 1974), 22–3 (note 12).

Tinatin Virsaladze, K’art’uli mkhatvrobis istoriidan [From the History of Georgian Painting] (Tbilisi, 2007), 79–83.