Boyana church unraveled a new secret
There are no many Bulgarian monuments, which are well known around the world. However Boyana church is amongst the world’s famous historical monuments, one of the seventh monuments in Bulgaria under the protection of UNESCO. Crowned people, presidents, film stars and ordinary people have bowed down before the genius of the master. The present cultural monument is always in the agenda of almost all first ladies, who have visited Bulgaria.
Boyana church is situated in the foot of Vitosha, in the suburbs of the capital. It is rebuilt three times during three different periods. The building of the temple begins at the end of X and at the beginning of XI century when a steady fortress called Boyanos was at this place. It is constructed according to a cross-dome plan – its foundation inside is in the form of a cross surmounted with a dome. The wall are steady with width about a meter, they are constructed mainly of bricks. The acoustics of the church is due to masters from XIII century and it is achieved through pottery put in the hollow of the wall.
According to the specialists it is preserved almost untouched due to the fact that Boyana had the most favored status of a keepers’ village and the keepers took care for the guarding of the passages and they had the right for their own church. Nevertheless still at present there are marks of bullets or knives on the oak gate of the temple, which is the oldest gate in Bulgaria dated 1259.
In Boyana church a painting dated XI-XII century is preserved. The second decorating was in XIII century when the so-called Kaloyan’s part was built. During that time Kaloyan, who donated funds for the painting, was a ruler of Sredetz region. His face and that one of his wife Desislava can be seen in the church. Next to their portrait there is an old Bulgarian inscription, which says that the church was decorated in the year 1259 with the help of Kaloyan and during the reign of Constantine Asen Tih and his wife Irina.
The paintings in the church are over 240 and they are notable for their extreme realism and spirituality. The experiences of the characters are reproduced precisely and the depicted elements out of the everyday life and clothing are of extreme importance for the ethnographic science. “At certain places it could be even talked about presenting of the paintings in depth and all that in time when painting is flat and two-dimensional”, says Mariana Trifonova, Head of the branch “Boyana church” of the National museum of history. Mrs. Trifonova has been a witness to different discoveries, which unraveled a lot of mysteries and put things right in our history. In January 1977 in the chapel of the Kaloyan’s church Boyana’s psalter was found. The small book dated the middle of XIII century was hidden in a hollow in the wall probably during fateful events for the country. It is interesting because of its fine writing out in middle Bulgarian language and original red leather book-cover.
The restoration works and the research of the wall paintings also surprised the scientists pleasantly. Mariana Trifonova remembers for the discovery of “Presentation of
the Blessed Virgin” dated XIII century which was well hidden under a depiction with the same plot but made a century later. The discovery of the depiction of the head of the Virgin dated XI century, the returning in the church of the painting layer with the depiction of St. George on it, which was taken down at the beginning of the previous century was also interesting for the researchers.
During the archaeological research in the yard of Boyana church funerals were found in the south, north and west side. In the church itself a funeral of a man dated XIV century was found. And after researches and reconstruction of the skull were made the scientists stated the hypothesis that Aldimir, son of Vitomir, whose depiction up to the beginning of the previous century was inside the temple, was buried there.
The last secret discovered by Boyana church is the name of the master icon-painter. In March this year the scientists came across a grammatically correct inscription in Bulgarian language, which says “I Vasilii wrote/painted, a.n./”. The inscription is located on the left side of the gate parallel with depictions of an adult and a young man on the other side, which have already been known for two years. A team of scientists made a conclusion that the inscription was left by Vasilii Zograf from village Subonasha, Serski region – one of the three masters decorated the church in 1259. It is put through a charcoal on the rough rendering of the church, which two-three days after its putting was covered with a second layer of thin rendering which remained up to the year 1980. After the undertaking of the works regarding the painting of the temple according to the tradition nobody had an access to the church up to the finishing of the frescoes. “So the signature in any case belongs to one of the tree painters”, say the scientists. As a proof they translated Boyana’s beadroll – a formal list of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church from the Middle Ages with names of Bulgarian kings and patriarchs about which a memorial service should be proceeded at official celebrations. There it is inscribed the name: “Vasilii Zograf from village Subonasha, Serski region”. The appearance of the name of a painter and that from a village amongst the names of famous people, which misses in the beadrolls of other churches, is obviously connected with the merits regarding the painting of the temple. Since only his name is mentioned and not that one of Dimitrii and the third painter it should be concluded that Vasilii was the head artist that is the man who we call Boyana’s master..