The Hidden Gem of Tao-Klarjeti: The Painted Chapel and the Medieval Miracle of Georgian Art

Yayın Tarihi | 13 May 2024, Monday

The monastery complexes founded by St. Grigol Khandzteli and his followers in the Tao-Klarjeti region, which covers parts of today's Erzurum, Artvin, Ardahan, and Kars provinces and hosted Georgian principalities in the Middle Ages, indicate that the roots of the Medieval Georgian Art Academy were laid in these lands. Among these important historical structures, the Painted Chapel in the Vank Valley in Olur District of Erzurum Province stands out as a symbol of the region's artistic and architectural richness. The single-nave chapel dates back to the 12th-13th centuries and stands out for being built in the Georgian architectural style.


Detailed research conducted in 2022 has revealed that the chapel carries local Georgian architectural elements rather than traditional Byzantine architecture. The wall paintings inside the chapel depict scenes such as the First Bath of Jesus, the Baptism, and the Warrior Saints. Inscriptions written in the ancient Georgian alphabet Asomtavruli provide information about the history of the chapel and the clergy.


Recent studies also include analyses of the secco fresco technique applied to the chapel walls and the materials used. A matrix consisting of white gypsum lime, sandstone (feldspar, quartz), limestone, and embedded aggregates has determined the aesthetic and structural characteristics of the chapel. The pigments used for colors were locally sourced, reflecting the artistic richness of the chapel and the technical capacity of the region. Lapis lazuli, barite, and ultramarine pigments were identified for blue colors; red and yellow ochre pigments for red, burgundy, orange, and yellow tones; carbon black for black and gray tones; calcite lime white and calcium carbonate pigments for white tones. These data also provide insights into the technical knowledge of the residents of the Vank Valley where the chapel is located.


These findings demonstrate that the chapel is not just a place of worship, but also a part of the region's cultural and technical heritage. Studies on the Vachedzori Monastery and Painted Chapel in the Vank Valley contribute to the preservation and understanding of this valuable heritage for future generations by helping us better understand the historical and cultural landscape of Tao-Klarjeti.


Link to the Study: