The Lavra of Oshki, Church of St. John the Baptist
|Location:||Oshki (Current Çamlıyamaç), Uzundere District, Erzurum Province|
|Dedication:||St. John the Baptist|
|Type:||Domed Church, Triconch|
|Layers of the Murals:||Three layers|
The church was built as the main church of the monastery of St. John the Baptist and as a crypt of the Bagrationis of Tao. Governors of Tao, brothers Grand Duke (Eristavteristavi) Bagrat and David Magistros, started building it jointly in 963. The structure was finished by David Magistros (later Kuropalates) in 976. The church is diversely remarkable by its architecture, sculpted décor, multi-layer wall painting and numerous inscriptions. For centuries, the monastery was one of the most important literary centers of the country.
The inscription outlined in red paint on the tympanum of the south door contains extremely significant accounts about construction of the church: † ႫႭႼႷႠႪႤႡႨႧႠ Ⴖ(ႫႰ)ႧႨႱႠჂႧႠ Ⴐ(ႭႫႤ)ႪႨ ႱႺႠႥႱ Ⴗ(ႭႥႤ)ႪႧႠ ႫႭႸ(Ⴈ)ႸႧႠ Ⴋ(Ⴈ)ႱႧႠ ႣႠ ႼႠႰႳႫႠႰႧ(Ⴄ)ႡႱ ႫႭႷႳႠႰႤႧႠ ႱႠႾႤႪႨႱႠ ႫႨႱႨႱႠႧႠ Ⴗ(ႭႥႤ)ႪႧႠ Ⴑ(Ⴀ)ႵႫ|ႤႧႠ Ⴉ(Ⴄ)Ⴇ(Ⴈ)ႪႧႠ, ႠႫႨႱ Ⴜ(ႫႨ)ႣႨႱႠ Ⴑ(Ⴀ)Ⴋ(Ⴄ)Ⴁ(Ⴈ)ႱႠ ႱႠႰႼႫႳႬႭႥႤႡ(Ⴈ)ႧႠ ႣႠ Ⴋ(ႤႭ)Ⴞ(Ⴄ)Ⴁ(Ⴈ)ႧႠ Ⴜ(ႫႨ)ႣႨႱႠ Ⴃ(Ⴄ)ႣႭႴႪႨႱႠ Ⴙ(ႳႤ)ႬႨႱႠ ႶႫ(ႰႧႨ)ႱႫႸႭႡ(Ⴄ)ႪႨႱႠჂႧႠ Ⴋ(Ⴀ)ႣႪႨႧႠ Ⴜ(ႫႨ)ႣჂႱႠ Ⴛ(Ⴄ)ႪႨႱႠ ႺႾႭႰႤႡႨႱႠჂ|ႧႠ ႸႤႼ(Ⴄ)ႥႬႨႧႠ ႣႠ ႫႤႭႾ(Ⴄ)Ⴁ(Ⴈ)ႧႠ ႣႨႣႤႡႳႪႨႱႠ ႬႠႧႪႨႱႫႺႤႫႤႪႨႱႠჂႧႠ ႣႠ Ⴗ(ႭႥႤ)ႪႧႠ ႼႫႨႣႠჂႧႠჂႧႠ (!) Ⴐ(ႭႫႤႪ)ႬႨ ႱႠႳႩႳႬႨႧႢ(Ⴀ)Ⴌ ႱႠႧႬႭ ႤႷ(Ⴓ)Ⴌ(Ⴄ)Ⴑ Ⴖ(ႫႤႰ)ႧႱႠ. ႠႫႠႧ Ⴗ(ႭႥႤ)ႪႧႠ | ႼႫႨႣႠႧႠ ႱႠႣႨႣႤႡ(Ⴄ)Ⴊ(Ⴀ)Ⴃ ႣႠ ႱႠႵႤႡ(Ⴄ)Ⴊ(Ⴀ)Ⴃ ႨႼႷ(Ⴄ)Ⴑ Ⴖ(ႫႰ)Ⴇ(Ⴈ)ႥႢႳႨႰႢႳႨႬႭႱ(Ⴀ)ႬႧႠ Ⴋ(Ⴄ)Ⴔ(Ⴄ)ႧႠ Ⴙ(ႳႤ)ႬႧႠ Ⴘ(Ⴄ)Ⴌ(Ⴄ)Ⴁ(Ⴀ)Ⴃ ႠႫႨႱ ႼႫႨႣႨႱႠႱႠ(!) Ⴑ(Ⴀ)ႷႣႰႨႱႠ Ⴐ(ႠჂ)ႧႠ ႠႫႠႱ Ⴘ(Ⴈ)ႬႠ ႠႶႤႱႰႳႪႤႡႭႣႨႠႬ ႣႶႤႱႠ | ႱႼႠႳႪႬႨ ႣႠ ႸႤႨႫႩႥႤႡႭႣႨႠႬ ჄႱႤႬႤႡ(Ⴀ)ႬႨ ႼႫႨႣႠႧႠႬႨ Ⴅ(ႨႧႠႰႺ)Ⴀ ႼႤႰႨႪႠႰႱ ჄႱႤႬႤႡႠႱႠ ႼႫႨႣႠႧႠႱႠ ႤႦႨႠႰႤႡႭႣ(Ⴈ)Ⴇ ႠႫႠႧ Ⴗ(ႭႥႤ)ႪႧႠ ႼႫႨႣႠႧႠ ႱႳႰႥႨႪႨႧႠ | ႠႫႠႧ ႣႨႣႤႡႳ(Ⴊ)ႧႠ Ⴋ(Ⴄ)Ⴔ(Ⴄ)ႧႠ Ⴙ(ႳႤ)ႬႧႠ ႳႸႳႰႥ(Ⴄ)ႪႷ(Ⴓ)ႬႤႬ ႱႠႴ(Ⴀ)Ⴑ(Ⴄ)ႬႨ ႼႠႰႫႠႥ(Ⴀ)ႪႬႨ ႼႠႰ(Ⴓ)ႥႠႪႨႱႠ Ⴋ(Ⴈ)ႱႧႳႨႱ Ⴐ(ႠჂ)ႧႠ ႨႢႨ Ⴗ(ႭႥႤႪ)ႬႨ ႼႫႨႣႠႬႨ ႸႤႫႼ(Ⴄ)Ⴃ ႫႭႨႢႬႤႬ ႣႠ Ⴖ(ႫႤႰႧႫႠ)Ⴌ Ⴘ(ႤႤ)Ⴜ(ႨႤ)Ⴌ ႭႰႧႠႥႤ ႺႾႭႰႤႡ(Ⴀ)ႧႠ Ⴛ(Ⴄ)ႧႠ Ⴖ(ႫႰ)Ⴇ(Ⴈ)ႥႩႳႰႧႾႤႳႪႨႱႠ ႠႣႠႰႬႤႱႤ ႩႳႰႠႮႠႪႠႲႨႱႠႧႠ: Ⴁ(Ⴀ)ႢႰ(Ⴀ)Ⴒ ႤႰႨႱႧႠႥႧႠ ႤႰႨႱႧ(Ⴀ)ႥႫ(Ⴀ)Ⴌ, ႣႠႥႨႧ ႫႠႢႨႱႲႰႭႱႫ(Ⴀ)Ⴌ ႱႠႫႤႡႠႫ(Ⴀ)Ⴌ ႼႫႨႣႠႫႠႬ | ႱႠႫႬႨႥႤ ႣႠႨႴႠႰႤႬ ႫႠႰႿႳႤႬႨႧႠ Ⴇ(Ⴣ)ႱႨႧႠ ႣႠ Ⴀ(ႣႨ)Ⴃ(Ⴄ)Ⴌ ႭႰႧႠႥႤ ႺႾႭႥႰႤႡ(Ⴀ)ႧႠ ႣႠ ႫႤ ႢႰႨႢႭႪ ႶႨႰႱ-ႫႷႭ Ⴖ(ႫႤႰႧႫႠ)Ⴌ ႫႱႠႾႳႰႤႡ(Ⴀ)ႱႠ ႠႫႠႱ Ⴋ(Ⴀ)ႧႱႠ Ⴖ(ႫႰ)ႧႨႱႠ ႫႨႫႠႰႧ ႣႠ ႫႤ ႥႨႷ|ႠႥ ႱႠ(Ⴕ)ႫႤႱႠ Ⴆ(ႤႣ)ႠႫ(Ⴃ)ႢႭႫႨ ႣႠ ႠႰႼႫႳႬႠ Ⴖ(ႫႤႰႧႫႠ)Ⴌ ႢႭႬႤႡႠႱႠ Ⴋ(Ⴀ)ႧႱႠ ႤႰႧႢႳႪႭႡႠჂ Ⴙ(Ⴄ)ႫႨ Ⴋ(Ⴍ)ႬႨႱႠ Ⴋ(Ⴀ)ႧႨႱႠჂ ႤႱႤ ႨႷႭ ႢႠႪႠႲႭႦႧႠ ႣႠ ႫႭႵႫႤႣႧႠ ႫႨႦႣႨ ႣႠ ႠႦႠႥႤႰႧႠ ႫႤႵႭჃ|ႨႸႤႧႠჂ Ⴐ(ႭႫႤ)Ⴊ ႼႤႪႨႼႠႣႱႠ ႼႠႤႢႤႡႨႱ: ႣႰႠႫႠჂ Ⴉ ႠႧႠႱႨ ႶႳႨႬႭჂ Ⴔ(ႨႱႭ)ႱႨ Ⴝ; ႰႩႨႬႠჂ ႪႨႲႰ(Ⴀ)Ⴢ Ⴌ ႾႳႠႰႡႠႪႨ ႢႰႨႥႨ ႱႫႨ ႢႠႪႠႲႭႦႨ ႣႠ ႾႳႰႭჂ ႣႠ ႫႽႤႣႤႪႨ Ⴐ(ႭႫႤ)[Ⴊ] [ႫႠ]ႰႠႣႨႱ Ⴘ(Ⴓ)ႰႤႡႭႣႠ|ჂႨ Ⴤ(Ⴀ)ႰႨ Ⴐ(ႭႫႤ)Ⴊ ႵႥႠႱႠ ႩႰ(Ⴄ)ႡႣႠ Ⴊ ႿႭႰႨ ႣႠ ႱႾ(Ⴓ)ႠჂ ႠႦႠႥႤႰႨ Ⴐ(ႭႫႤ)Ⴊ ႢႰႨႢႭႪႼႫႨႣႨႧ ႱႮႭႬႣႨႩႱႠ ႩႰ(Ⴄ)ႡႣႠ Ⴊ ႱႾႳႠჂ ႠႦႠႥႤႰႨ Ⴐ(ႭႫႤ)Ⴊ [- – – – – – – – – – – – – -][ႩႰ(Ⴄ)]ႡႣႠ | Ⴢ ႣႠ [- – – -] Ⴗ(ႭႥႤႪ)Ⴈ ႤႰႨ ႣႠ ႫႭႵႫႤႣႨ Ⴎ – † By the grace of God who protect those who honor him and who benevolently leads to success all good deeds of those who love his name. With belief in the Holy Trinity and the intercession of our Holy Queen Mother of God, with the grace of the Holy Wood of Life with the help and intercession of the glorious Baptist and all the Saints who devoted themselves to God from time immemorial (it is) for the glorification and praise of all these Saints that our divinely crowned Kings began the construction of this holy church so that in it could be celebrated holy days and the Saints splendidly commemorated, as it is written: “partake in the commemoration of the Saints.” By the desire of all those Saints those glorious kings of ours did not spare transient riches for that which is permanent, in order to merit the aid of all those Saints, and may God help in both lives the sons of the divinely blessed Adarnese Kuropalates, Bagrat, Duke of Dukes (and) David Magistros. The Holy Trinity shall protect all three on his right side and glorify (them) in both lives, I Grigol was made worthy by God to serve the Lord through them. I was the supervisor of the labors and may God convince them of my devotion to them, their servant. The yearly expenditures and wages for the masons and hired laborers and for oxen wagons carrying the sand was K (=20) thousand drama, the wine C (=5000) phisos, the iron N (=50) liters, the grain, SMI (=250) grivi, the number of steadily laboring masons, carpenters and blacksmiths (was) JI (=70), the (number of) oxen carrying the stone L (=30) the mules and other pack animals which were transporting the spondiki from the environs of (the monastery of) Holy Grigol L (=30) the other carries which were gathering […] J (=60) […] J (=60) and […] (the total number of) man and those laboring (in the construction of the church) P (=80).
An inscription of the angel relief inserted in the ridge of the east façade: [ႠႣ(ႨႣႤ)Ⴌ Ⴖ(ႫႤႰႧႫႠ)Ⴌ Ⴋ(Ⴄ)ႴჁ | Ⴙ(ႳႤ)ႬႨ Ⴃ(ႠႥႨ)Ⴇ ႫႠႢႨႱ|ႲႰႭႱႨ Ⴐ(ႭႫႤ)Ⴊ | ႠႧႱ|Ⴀ Ⴜ(Ⴄ)Ⴊ]|ႱႠ | ႠႸႤ|ႬႤႡ|ႣႠ – God, glorify our King Davit’ Magistros, who was building it during ten years.
The inscription near the relief of the Deesis: Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴍ Ⴖ(ႫႰ)ႧႨႱႫႸ(Ⴍ)Ⴁ(Ⴄ)ႪႭ ႣႠ Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴍ Ⴌ(Ⴀ)ႧႪႨႱႫႺ(Ⴄ)Ⴋ(Ⴄ)ႪႭ ႠႣႨႣႤႬ Ⴋ(Ⴄ)Ⴔ(Ⴄ)ႬႨ ႹႳႤႬႬႨ | ႢႪႠႾ(Ⴀ)ႩႬႨ Ⴘ(Ⴄ)ႬႬႨ Ⴋ(Ⴀ)Ⴘ(Ⴄ)Ⴌ(Ⴄ)ႡႤႪႬႨ ႠႫႨႱ ႼႫႨႣႨႱႠ ႤႩႪႤႱ(ႨႨ)ႱႠ ႣႠ | ႩႳႠႪႠႣ ႼႠႰ(Ⴓ)Ⴋ(Ⴀ)ႰႧႤႬ Ⴋ(Ⴄ)Ⴔ(Ⴄ)ႧႠ Ⴙ(ႳႤ)ႬႧႠ Ⴁ(Ⴀ)ႢႰႠႲ[Ⴑ] ႣႠ ႣႠႥႨႧႱ – Holy Mother of God and Saint John the Baptist, glorify our kings, your servants, those who built this holy church and let our kings Bagrat and Davit’ succeed.
An inscription on the left part of the same composition: Ⴜ. ႫႭႬႠჂ Ⴖ(ႫႰ)ႧႨႱႠჂ Ⴋ(Ⴄ)ႴჁ Ⴙ(ႳႤႬ)Ⴈ | ႣႠႥႨႧ ႫႠႢႨႱႲႰႭႱႨ Ⴀ|ႣႨႣႤႬ Ⴖ(ႫႤႰႧႫ)ႠႬ ႭႰႧႠႥႤ ႺႾ|ႭႰႤႡႠႧႠ Ⴋ(Ⴀ)Ⴘ(Ⴄ)Ⴌ(Ⴄ)Ⴁ(Ⴄ)ႪႨ ႠႫ(Ⴈ)Ⴑ Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႨ)ႱႠ| ႤႩႪႤႱႨႨႱႠჂ Ⴀ(ႫႤ)Ⴌ – God, glorify holy servant of God, our king Davit’ Magistros, builder of this holy church, in both lives, amen.
An inscription on the right part of the same composition: †. ႫႭႬႠჂ Ⴖ(ႫႰ)ႧႨႱႠჂ ႫႤႴႤჂ ႹႳႤႬႨ | ႡႠႢႰႠႲ ႤႰႨႱႧႠႥႧႠ ႤႰႨႱႧႠႥႨ Ⴀ|ႣႨႣႤႬ ႶႫႤႰႧႫႠႬ ႭႰႧႠႥႤ ႺႾႭ|ႰႤႡႠႧႠ ႫႠႸႤႬႤႡႤႪႨ ႠႫႨႱ ႼႫႨႣႨႱႠ | ႤႩႪႤႱႨႨႱႠჂ ႠႫႤႬ – †. God, glorify the servant of God, our king Bagrat, Erist’avt’ erist’avi, builder of this holy church, in both lives, amen.