RUMELIA

Medieval Serbian ecclesiastical art styles pt. I - Rascian school

this style is called Rascian because the region of Rascia (Raška, area around the identically-named river, today also known as Sandžak) was the nucleus of the medieval Serbian state in this period - from cca. 1170 (the building of Đurđevi Stupovi, pic 1) until the late 13th cent., when a new style emerges. This coincides with the first century of the Nemanjić dinasty’s reign - much like a proper, strong medieval Serbia with its own growing sense of identity begins with them, so does its art.

the Rascian style is a curious blend of Western Romanesque and Byzantine influences, which is a direct result of Serbia’s presence both in the inner Balkans and on the Adriatic coast on the west (roughly today’s Herzegovina and Montenegro, back then simply known as Primorje) where western art trends were present via cultural exchange with the rest of Europe, particularly Italy. despite Serbia being formally an Orthodox state, Catholicism was strongly present in the littoral area and (in later centuries) among Serbia’s Saxons, Ragusan traders and Albanians. from left to right:

1. Monastery of Đurđevi Stupovi (St. George’s tracts) near Novi Pazar - endowment by grand prince Stefan Nemanja, founder of the Nemanjić dynasty, 1170
2. Hilandar monastery - Mount Athos, Greece - established by Rastko Nemanjić aka St. Sava, founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church, along with his father Stefan Nemanja, 1198
3. Sopoćani monastery near Ras - endowment by king Stefan Uroš I, second half of the 13th cent.
4. Studenica monastery near Kraljevo - endowment by S. Nemanja, 1190
5. Žiča monastery near Kraljevo - endowment by Stefan the First-crowned, 1207-1217. the red colour symbolises early Christian martyrdrom.
6. and 7. Visoki Dečani, near Peć - endowment by Stefan Uroš III, built by the workers of a Franciscan (!) friar from Kotor. it also occured that a Catholic church be built under the supervision of Orthodox churchmen. the church’s portal is one of the most masterful examples of romanesque art worldwide. 1327.

most of these pictures come from Wikimedia Commons, those who don’t have their sources specified in the captions.

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