Hanging chandeliers from the territory of medieval Serbia
Viseći svećnjaci sa područja srednjevekovne Srbije
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Three hanging chandeliers are known from Serbia's territory - two from Decani and one from the Sopocani monastery. They belong to a specific group of chandeliers shaped like crowns, which were mass-produced in northern Flemish and German workshops from the 14(th) century onwards. Chandeliers from the territory of Serbia were mutually different regarding their shape and, thus, illustrate the character of the Flemish chandelier production quite well. Until today, the best known examples of such chandeliers were from the 15(th) century. Considering that individual identical parts, such as the candle-socket and drip-pan, were used for all shapes of chandeliers, in an instance of finding only individual elements it is hard to determine, whether they belonged to hanging, wall, or freestanding chandeliers. A solid chronology does not exist and has not been established, which is in direct connection with the discovery circumstances of most examples, i.e. the non-existence of a stratigraphical ...context based on which a more precise dating could be performed. Chandeliers like those from Decani were formed by modification of older wooden and metal horos - polielei. They were primarily made for lighting churches. in the same way and in a similar manner simpler chandeliers were also made, with the body shaped like a profiled small column, such as the find from the Sopocani monastery. Such chandeliers are more often found in middle-class houses, clearly depicted on canvases of Flemish painters. As opposed to the Decani chandelier, the one from Sopocani and pieces similar to it do not carry a distinct symbolic message, except for the six arms possibly being an allusion to the number signifying the making of the world. Up to now, no parallel analyses concerning the composition of the mined raw material or the alloys used in the making of the chandeliers have been conducted, thus, only the region of origin can be determined for our examples, but not the direct workshops in which they were made. Older scientific literature mentions a workshop in Lubeck, although other workshops are known for making various objects from copper, bronze and brass, e.g. in Nurnberg, Aachen or Dinan. The chandeliers came from Flemish workshops via Venetian mediation. They were most likely transported to the inland towns in Serbia by merchants from Dubrovnik, whose routes took them from Dubrovnik, through Trebinje, through the Drina river valley and further on the so-called the so-called Constantinople Road or through some route from the Zeta Littoral, primarily from Kotor. Hanging chandeliers represent exceptionally distinctive finds, which reflect the character of imported goods from distant European lands to the area of medieval Serbia. What yet remains the biggest question is, whether the chandeliers were considered as exclusively practical objects in their new midst, or whether they were considered as symbols, whose meaning could have suited the Population accustomed to Byzantine piety.
Keywords:use / trade / symbolic meaning / chandeliers / chandelier production / svećnjaci / proizvodnja svećnjaka / trgovina / upotreba / simbolično značenje
Source:Annales-Anali za Istrske in Mediteranske Studije-Series Historia et Sociologia, 2008, 18, 2, 361-368
- Znanstveno Raziskovalno Sredisce Republike Slovenije, Koper