Church of Vank

Church Of Vank

cathedral of vank isfahanThe church of Vank or "Amena Perkij" is located at Esfahan in the district of Jolfa. Its construction, whose architecture took as its model the Church of St. Stephen in Jolfa in Azerbaijan, dates back to the time of the king Safavid Shah Abbas.

"Vank" in the Armenian language means "monastery". The gold ornamentation of the ceiling and the internal surface of the dome, the oil paintings influenced by the Italian style and the gilding according to the Iranian style on the walls, with the stories of the life of Jesus, are the most distinctive decorations of this church.

The bell tower in front of the main entrance of the church was designed according to the Iranian style; it was built in the time of Shah Soltan Hossein.

The church of Vank is a notable example of Islamic-Christian composite architecture. There is also a museum attached to the church which was inaugurated around the 1905-1906. In those years on the northern side of the church's courtyard some rooms were built for the conservation and display of books, manuscripts and historical objects.

Until 1930 these rooms were used both as a museum and as a church library. This space has since been expanded.

In the 1977 opposite the entrance door of the museum two statues were placed, the work of the Armenian artist Zaven Aivazyan: one depicting Mesrop Mashtots, inventor of the Armenian alphabet (V century AD), and the other Khachatur Gessaretsi, founder of the Vank church typography (17th century AD). Examples of the stucco decorations of the Safavid palaces, works of art, mostly religious, of European and Armenian painters - in particular of Abraham Guregnyan (1907-1967) -, and a charcoal sketch of Abraham's face attributed to Rembrandt, are among other valuable things of this museum.

In this museum there is also a single hair on whose surface Vahram Hakupyan in the 1947 has engraved with a diamond-tipped stylus a phrase from the Old Testament in the Armenian language. In another section of the museum's treasure there is a collection of metal works including ornaments and gold and silver instruments for religious ceremonies - created according to the techniques of the moshabak-kari of the rikhtegari (metal casting), of the malile-kari (filigree work of silver and gold) and engraving and decorated with multicolored precious and semiprecious stones. Hand-woven fabrics with overlapping embroidery, including sacred vestments and traditional costumes of the Armenians of Jolfa constitute another section of this museum.

Still, large rooms are used for pottery and porcelain and another section of the museum houses wooden works, the most notable of which are stringed instruments built by Yahya Khan (Hovhannes Abkaryan) and Melkon Khan Jolfani. a chugur (belonging to Manuk Manukian, one of the traditional stringed musical instruments).

Other very precious works of the Vank museum that deserve mention are the 40 Armenian manuscripts of the Torah, the Gospel and other religious texts whose pages are adorned with Armenian-style miniatures and drawings.

A copy of the Gospel of the tenth century written on parchment and an Armenian translation of the 18th century Koran they are the most precious of these codices preserved in two rooms dedicated respectively to the manuscripts of Jolfa of Esfahan and to the manuscripts of the Churches of Western Armenia.

In the museum there is also a collection of 170 decrees of the century. XVII-XIX, related to the immigration of the Armenians, to commercial and religious concessions for the Armenians of Jolfa and related to the collection of taxes by the Armenians: 22 of these decrees are exhibited in the halls of the museum.

The earliest of these decrees was issued by Shah Tahmasnb in the 1564. The Vank church press museum is also very popular, given that the head of the Armenian religious community Khachatur Gessaretsi and his students installed the first printing press in Iran at the Vank church.

They were themselves to design and build the equipment, and to produce the paper and the printing ink and in the 1638 they published the first book: "Saqmus" (the book of the psalms of David) which is now kept in Oxford.

In the Vank press museum typographical characters are kept, the first books published by the Vank printing house, and specimens of volumes from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. processed according to different techniques of binding: jeld-e sukht (the leather cover is designed with a press that burns the skin darkens it), jeld-e zarbi (the cover is printed with brass plates on which it was engraved drawing), jeld-e rowghani (the cover design, which can be made of different materials, paper, wood, fabric, etc., is covered with various layers of oil to preserve the design and soften the cover), in gold, studded with gems or miniata.

Other rooms in the museum are dedicated to Yeprem Khan, one of the leaders of the Iranian constitutional revolution (NdT: beginning '900); to the Armenian genocide of the 1915 implemented by the Ottoman government; to independent Armenia in the years between the 1918 and the 1920.

Among the statesmen who visited this museum we remember: the ambassador of Armenia in the 1920, the Prince of Sudan and the Prince of Japan in the 1933, the Prime Minister of Germany in the 1957, the Queen and the Crown Prince of Denmark in the 1963 , the president of the republic of India in the same year, the king and queen of Belgium in the 1964, the prince of Spain in the 1966 and Kofi Annan ex-secretary general of the UN in the 1999.

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