The Journal  of  Human Sciences

2001, Vollume 1, Issue 1 p. 9-15

Zaza Aleksidze

K. Kekelidze Institute of Manuscripts, Georgian Academy of Sciences

The Mandylion and the Keramion in the  ancient literature of Georgia


It is generally recognised that Georgia is one of the oldest countries of the Christian world regarding the tradition of the movements of the Mandylion and Keramion. This tradition must have emerged not later than 1054, when the Mandylion was in Constantinople, according the Georgian sources.
The first mention of the transposition of the acheropite (the Mandylion) from Hierapolis to Georgia by the apostle Andrew is around  the 12th-13th centuries. Its the well-known image of Anchi. The inscription as its triptych does not however mention Andrew, and dates the event of the move (Edesse to Konstantinople to Anchi) to the time of Leon of Isauria.
The second mention dates the second quarter of the 13th century (the canticles of Arsène, son of Boulmaisim, and of Saba). Anthoni of Martkopi brought the Keramion of Edesse to Georgia. According to Arsène this event placed Georgia equal to Byzantium, because the cloth (the Mandylion) remained in Constantinople and the baked earth tablet ( the Keramion) appeard in Kartli. It was studied in more detail during 17th and 18th centuries (Life of Anthony of Martkopi, the Charter of the Churches). It appears that in Martkopi Monastery there existed a tradition of the disappearance of the image in the cause of Tamerlane’s invasions.
In the oldest (10th century) edition of the Lives of the Syrian Fathers, recently discovered    Mount Sinai, in the monastery of St Catherine, more data concerning the Mandylion and Keramion can be found,  hitherto unknown to science: among the Syrian Fathers who came to Georgia in the 6th century, Anthony is not mentioned, but the servant-monk and deacon of the image (the Mandylion) was Theodosios of Urhai (later of Rekha), and the servant end censer of the image (the Keramion) of Heirapolis was Ezderios of Nabuk (later of Samthavisi). They constructed the Churches of Rekha and of Samthavisi, and, nostalgic for the acheropites, they decorated them with similar images. The angels sent by the Saviour fulfilled their desire. This appears to be the origin of the traditions, according to which the Mandylion and the Keramion were transported to Georgia, and which is linked to one of the Syrian Fathers (Anthony of Martkopi).