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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Examples Of Middle Ages Croatian Knotted Interlace In Stone (aka 3-Ribboned Pleter, Troplet, Wattle...)






The latest Rob Ford news is all over the place today, (and I mean everywhere, they're having 10 minute sightings update alerts on television all day even including the sports and weather channels), it's like UFO or Sasquatch sightings, a War of the Worlds broadcast or as if he was some kind of Jimmy Hoffa. The media is having a field day with this one, milking it for all it's worth, because in the infotaiment biz it means higher ratings andmore crap sold. All the important news and even the usual Hollywood celeb news has been bumped for days. It's bizarre, people are actually calling into radio stations with sightings reports, radio stations are giving out hotline numbers to call in case people have any sightings or tips or heard any rumours, there's even television interviews with doormen, street sweepers, gas bar attendants and various cashiers who think they may have seen him. Like wtf? these local and even national "news" stations must really think the average viewer or person doesn't have a life or other interests and is on the edge of their seats giving a fuck about where he is or what he's doing, because it's really important to them and meaningful to their pointless personal lives because he's everybody's favourite all-Canadian folk-hero and they just need to know because its almost like everybodies personal family crisis? Pfff. lol...infotainment people.

Anyway on that note, this is just a brief addition I threw together as a spur of the moment thing. Surprisingly, the topic of old decorative designs and especially knotted art and stonework, is more popular than I thought. Over the last while I've come across plenty of blogs, forums and sites related to these subjects, people who are just into various middle ages stuff. Not just Croatian ones either, uh-uh, there's lots of places from different countries where they upload pics and discuss and disseminate various middle ages and older architecture, archeology, design and art I discovered. So I would download a pic here and there related to Croatian stonework designs and decided to finally make a post just now.

These designs were a special trait of Croatian buildings in the middle ages and as an ornamental motif on stone. Numerous larger finds have been pieced together, many are fragments that have been discovered only in the 19th century. Fragments from building destroyed by the numerous wars fought on the territory for centuries, sieges or from earthquakes. This Croatian 3-ribbon interlace in stone, has been a popular pattern and motif that was included in many ways over the centuries and even these days, and recently believe it or not, in tattoo circles it's become very popular again. Makes sense to me, I've come across lots of tattoos incorporating the Croatian interlace pleter. (example) See my post croatian-tattoos-what-where-do-donts for more.




Source: wikipedia.org/wiki/Croatian_interlace


The Croatian interlace or Croatian wattle, known as the pleter or troplet in Croatian, is a type of interlace, most characteristic for its three-ribbon pattern. It is one of the most often used patterns of Pre-Romanesque Croatian art. They were found on and within churches as well as monasteries built during early medieval Kingdom of Croatia between the 9th and beginning of the 12th century. The ornamental strings were sometimes grouped together with animal and herbal figures, these were especially included in various carved marble and stone reliefs connected to the Croatian dynastic rulers and their assemblies, eventually used as motifs in various literary works also.

The late 1930's and early 1940's were especially blessed and fortuitous years for archeological finds, as the decades before this neglected any sort of archeological projects or study, many monuments and remains found had to be put into hiding or else were confiscated by Serb royalist dictator government personnel. Previous to this the middle to late 19th century was also a propitious era for archeological finds. (Quite a number of archaeological discoveries have also been made since just the late 1990's, as more archeological digs and projects were funded with more archeologists and crews). Remains of these monuments that were previously thought to have been completely destroyed and lost through the centuries, were unearthed and found again. Other previous findings which were in danger of being destroyed by Serb chetniks and nationalists under the Serbian dictator king, were instead protected and preserved. (Many of them were completely destroyed during the centuries of the Croatian-Ottoman wars and while Croatia was a part of Habsburg and Austro-Hungarian empires, aka the Habsburg-Ottoman wars)

Some of the better known representative examples of inscriptions embellished with this Pre-Romanesque interlace design include the famous Baška tablet and the Branimir Inscription. Other notable examples are located near Knin, in Ždrapanj and Žavić by the Bribir settlement, Rižnice near Solin and in Split and Zadar, areas where the Croatian Princes, Dukes, Kings and their Queens resided and locations where they convened their royal courts, assemblies of nobles and enacted royal decrees, charters etc.

Croatia also has a civil and military decoration medal called the Order of the Croatian Interlace, the medal is awarded for advancement of progress and reputation of Croatia and the welfare of its citizens. Below are just a few examples, there are many more including fragments remains discovered since the 19th century. Many of the examples have been preserved and are found these days in many museums in Croatia. Anyway, below are just a few examples of this Pre-Romanesque and Medieval era artstic form from Croatia's long past.....


Related: merovichmerovingianscroatianhistory.blogspot.ca

croatianearlyhistory.blogspot.ca

gliptoteka.mdc.hr

www.muzejlike.hr/terra.pdf

www.mhas-split.hr

www.matica.hr

www.hismus.hr

www.hercegbosna.org

croatiancastlehistory.blogspot.ca

www.tetoviranje.com/tattoo

www.soa.hr





A baptistery from the 11th century with carved marble relief of the Croatian King, a courtier and a subject. It is dated to the time of Peter Krešimir IV (1058–1074/5) and was located in nearby Hollow Church in Solin where Dmitar Zvonimir was crowned Croatian King with Papal authority in 1076, and is now located in the city of Split .




Various Croatian interlace (Croatian: Pleter) 3-ribbon braided patterns are a special characteristic feature of numerous Croatian relief works in stone and marble, used to decorate buildings, churches, and important inscriptions between the 9th and beginning of the 12th century. Here a relief of a Pentagram with a round interlacing-ribbon pattern, from Solin, Hollow Church, 11th century. The shields on the falcons wings are believed to be one of the first instances of the Croatian Coat of Arms carved in marble. (The Pythagoreans saw in the Pentagram a mathematical perfection. Leonardo da Vinci centuries later saw in the Pentagram a relationship to the Golden ratio, and included it in his famous drawing of "Vitruvian Man.

For those not in the know, this 11th century Croatian knotted interlace pentagram associated with the rule of Croatian King Peter Krešimir IV, is a symbology associated with the Croatian royal dynasties which is also quite a few centuries before becoming much more commonplace in other parts of Europe, and since the 19th century and Victorian times especially.

Pentagrams have been dated in Europe going back as far as even before the Bronze Age, yet this remarkable Croatian pentagram also predates many later one's found in other parts of Europe, it's also an extremely very rare "carved in marble" example, which was a common feature of many early Croatian interlace/pleter motif designs. A marble interlace carving with metaphysical associations and very historical meanings such as "order out of chaos" and "as above, so below" etc. (Some scholars have argued that it is connected to the times when the early Croatian populations north of the Danube river were referred to as "Hyperboreans" by ancient Greek and later Roman writers. Herodotus's Histories (Book IV, Chapters 32–36) wrote about them circa. 450 BCE, as well as 7th century BCE Greek poet Aristeas). It has been associated with magic, knowledge of mysteries and as a symbol of protection for thousands of years. Today it is also commonly known as a witch star. (This intriguing early Croatian pentagram is so cool looking and historic that I even decided to get a tattoo of it, see what-where-dos-donts-tattoos-croatian-tattoos)




From the time of Peter Krešimir IV (1058–1074/5), another closer look at the familiar looking chequy design found within the shield of the falcon, they are believed to be the first early representation so far of the Coat of Arms of Croatia within a shield and carved in marble. See also merovichmerovingianscroatianhistory.blogspot.ca for more amazing information.




From the 9th century, Croatian 3-ribbon knotted pleter patterns from the town of Vrlika. This type of artistic style was a specific and special trait of the early Pre-Romanesque Medieval Croatian realms and monuments/buildings. Sometimes flowers, foliage and birds were included into the artwork design as well.





The description of the official Republic of Croatia, Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA - Croatian: Sigurnosno-Obavještajna Agencija)


The central part of the emblem is surrounded by early Croatian round interlacing-ribbon pattern, interwoven with a cross-shape pattern, giving the emblem a dynamic form and symbolizing the four corners of the world. Both stylized pattern ornaments create a well-proportioned shape. The patterns are silver.

Below the centre of the emblem, on an interlaced-ribbon pattern background, there is a golden yellow sword pointed upwards.

The conceptual basis of the emblem form corresponds to the SOA scope of work: acting in the Republic of Croatia and abroad.

The circle symbolizes the state, while the four corners of the world symbolize the world.

The state – a single entity, symbolized by a closed circle, with the state coat of arms in the middle. The circle is rounded by a stylized circular pattern dating back to the birth of the Croatian state. The pentagram under the circular pattern originates from Solin (11th century), from the coronation church of the nation’s rulers, the cradle of Croatia’s statehood. It is considered a real masterpiece of its time. In terms of shape, this part of the emblem clearly represents the continuity of Croatia’s history.

The world (abroad) – is presented by a universal symbol – corners of the world. These are not just the ‘ordinary’ corners of the world; they are a stylized derivative of St. Nicholas’ pluteum, Dubrovnik, 11th century. Why Dubrovnik? The Dubrovnik Republic had the strongest and most successful diplomacy in the long history of Croatia. It was also very successful in collecting information essential for its own security and centuries-long independence.

The sword – symbolizes a weapon (strength) which can be used in accordance with the law. The stylized sword is shaped like the early Croatian swords found in the graves of the Croatian warriors (9th, 10th and 11th century especially).

Colours – used in the emblem correspond to those in the Croatian coat of arms. See how the historic Croatian pleter/troplet designs are incorporated into the official SOA emblem at www.soa.hr (or you can scroll to the very bottom)





Various examples of Croatian stone pleter relief designs from the early 9th to 12th century, from the times of early Croatian royal dynastic rule. Many Middle Ages buildings and these decorative ornaments, sustained heavy damage during the Jihads of the invading Ottoman Turks in the 16th century and some were completely destroyed. Later marauding Srbs in collusion with their Ottoman masters used similar methods also trying to destroy whatever remained.




'Pleter' inscription of Croatian King Stephen Držislav. (969-997). The entire surface is filled with a rather irregular, but in terms of composition - a highly original and very simple hurdle ornament intertwined in knots, circles, and slanted geometric lines. The historic significance of the inscription lies in the fact that in the third quarter of the 10th centur, Croatia had a strictly defined ruling hierarchy determining, among other things, the issue of heritage to the throne. The inscription's significance is even greater since it once again mentions the Croatian name. (dux Hroatorum). This mention of the Croatian ethnonym is even more amazing because it is a rare example proving that the name "Croat" used in the Early Middle Ages Latin version is etymologically derived from the older word "Hrvat" with both referring to the same ethnonym, the older Hrvat is also the Slavic languages version of our ethnonym and still used today.




Close up from the same above photo.




Located at the Luka Sorkocevic Art School in Dubrovnik, about two hundred fragments with interlaced patterns were found. Below are just 2 examples.






Pre-Romanesque Croatian pleter cross discovered in the modern day Bosnian area. It is dated to the 9th century when the Bosnia area (originally a small area named after the Bosona river) was a part of the Croatian realms under the rule of Croatian Princes, Dukes and Kings. (Croat tribes arrived to the area in or before the year 620 and it was included in the medieval Kingdom of Croatia) The Croatian interlace 'pleter' designs were popular designs on stone around this time on early Croatian churches, especially around Nin which was an ecclesiastical center and at times seat of Croatian rulers. We see them included in centrally planned  buildings similar to in and around Ravenna, Aachen and other Carolingian structures. The Carolingian dynasty was the preeminent political and military power of Nostra Terra Europa at that time.  




Baptistery from the 11th century with carved marble relief of the Croatian King, a courtier and a subject. It is dated to the time of Peter Krešimir IV (1058–1074/5) and was located in nearby Hollow Church in Solin (aka Zvonimir's Coronation Basilica) where Dmitar Zvonimir was also crowned Croatian King in 1076. 






Above and below 4 of the glutei used on the baptismal font.




The first known Croatian/Slavic script and alphabet used to write the Croatian language was Glagolitic, seen below on the Baška tablet. Glagolitic incorporated ancient symbology and was the precursor to the later invented Cyrillic and it was even used from the 9th century alongside Latin in the Croatian realms. (Cyrillic was invented later strictly as a new bible translating and religious writing alphabet script, ie; primarily a religious alphabet and script for monks and their writings). Interestingly however, the Glagolitic script and alphabet contained various ancient symbology and elements including from what we today call Pre-Christian Slavic writing that was not generally known or used by many, an archaic alphabet symbology known and used by few for many centuries. (termed "Tallies and Sketches/Strokes and Incisions" similar to Runes). An excerpt from the below original Glagolitic transliterated into Latin script: "Zъvъnim[i]rъ kralъ hrъvatъskъï".  ie: 'Zvonimir the Croatian King." In Croatian: "Zvonimir Kralj Hrvatski". (Glagolitic script is unicase, ie: no distinction between an upper or lower case), and incredibly it was written using the Old Church Slavonic soundless Glagolitic hard sign Ⱏ  known only later as the Cyrillic ъ in the spelling. (a Glagolitic letter with no sound or phonetic value of its own but which was used purely as an orthographic break device between more important consonants, which made the word "Croatian" spelled and pronounced in our language EXACTLY THE SAME AS IT IS TODAY..."HRVATSKI"). This below stone tablet example, which was discovered only in 1851 but deciphered much later, is dated to the late 11th century and most probably from or shortly after the reign of King Zvonimir.




Various examples of Croatian stone pleter designs from the early 9th to 12th century. In the late 19th especially, marauding Serbs sent from Serbia attempted to destroy whatever archeological evidences or artifacts of the medieval Croatian Kingdom and middle ages Croat existence that they could find. (a failed revisionist psuedohistory theology supported by extreme Serb nationalist politicians and their Serb church heirarchy, and even directed at other neighboring nations and other European countries also). Today many of these midle ages preserved stone remains are found on display at museums and galleries throughout the country.




Various examples of stone pleter motifs and Croatian chequey designs from the early 9th to 12th century.




The inscription of the Croatian Duke Branimir circa. 880. The Branimir inscription (Croatian: Natpis kneza Branimira) is an interesting case because it is the oldest preserved monument containing an inscription in stone defining a Croatian medieval ruler as a Duke of the Croats - "Dux Cruatorvm". The inscribed beam and gable fragments contain a Latin language reference to Branimir as BRANIMIRO COM[MES] … DUX CRUATORVM COGIT[AVIT]…."Branimir, Guardian Prince and Duke of the Croats." It is one among five discovered epigraphic monuments containing the name of this early Croatian Prince. Apart from Branimir's name, the inscription for the first time mentions his particular royal title in Latin, as well as the name of the Croatian nation that he was ruling over (...dux Cruatorum/Duke of the Croats...)




Fragment of an architrave with Latin inscription of Prince Branimir, 879 - 892.






Lintel with inscription of a local Croatian noble leader Godečaj (also Godežav) from the 11th century near Nin. (See also gliptoteka.mdc.hr)






Dated to around 852. CE the inscription on the gable of Croatian Duke Trpimir with his name on it says in Latin: PRO DUCE TREPIM[ERO] (For the Duke Trpimir...). Trpimir in a charter named himself "Favored and by Divine Right, Duke of the Croats" (Latin: Dux Chroatorum iuvatus munere divino) and his realm as the "Realm of the Croats" (Regnum Chroatorum). This gable bears the name of Prince Trpimir, one of the first independent Croatian rulers (around 845-864 CE). The ornaments made up of stylized leaves and arches are arranged in four sections. Part of a peacock's tail and the dedication inscription.




Dated to the 12th century from the city of Zadar, including religious scenes which was common all over Europe during the Middle Ages, including scenes and moments from the daily life and organization of the local Croatian courts and assemblies, soldiers, peasants and nobles etc.




Zmaj (Dragon) creature with 3-ribbon pleter interlace as a motif from the town of Knin dated to the 9th century, circa. 830. More information www.tz-knin.hr






Fragment of an early Croatian stone pluteum from the church of St. Nicholas in Prijeko, Dubrovnik, 11th century. This unique design was incorporated into the Croatian S.O.A. Coat of Arms. See Croatian Security and Intelligence emblem.




Pre-Romanesque sculpture of choir screen panels from the 9th century are a perfect example of the western oriented mindset of the Croatian realms and culture which is embodied as a part of the decorative motif. According to royal charters by Dukes/Princes Branimir and Muncimir, we also see the similarities and glimpses into the organization of the early Croatian court, which was contemporaneous with the Carolingian court  and nearby Croatian lands and realms, with the Croatian royal rulers errecting centrally planned  buildings in those times that were similar to those found in and around Ravenna, Aachen and other Carolingian structures.






The decorations of the tablets are typical Croatian ornament, in this case from Knin 9th century, and another prime example of Croatian Pre-Romanesque art motifs in stone.






Stone remains from the Croatian town of Solin near Split, dated to between the start of the 9th-11th century. Chequy design in stone with ornamental patterns exactly like the stone altar fence mentioning Croatian Duke/Knez Trpimir I. (See example already shown previously)




This monument is of extreme importance for Croatian history. Apart from Prince Muncimir's name, (Latin: Muncimiro, sometimes called Mutimir) it also mentions the year of his ruling: 895. Prince Muncimir reigned from 892 to around 910. He was a member of the House of Trpimirović and was succeeded by his son Tomislav, the first Croatian King. The triangular gable was reconstructed and put together out of several stone elements. Along the outer edge, the decoration on the front gable furthermore consists of three-branched arches crossing each other, and of tallied bands in the form of pletered rope bordering the central field holding a cross filled with three-branched entwined hurdle and two stylized birds on the sides, with clusters in their beaks. All the remaining free space is filled with rosettes and little flowers. Below an architrave and gable with inscription of Prince Mutimir from circa. 895.




A fragment over top the doorway of the 9th century Pre-Romanesque Crkva svetog Križa (Church of the Holy Cross) in Nin. Significant rulers connected with the history of Nin include Prince Višeslav, Prince Branimir, King Tomislav, King Petar Krešimir IV and King Zvonimir, the church is these days a museum. 




Just a few of the extremely important and historical archeological discoveries found near the former residences of Croatian Dukes and Kings in the town of Knin. Knin was for a time the capital of the early medieval Kingdom of Croatia, and these below various sized fragments of stone monuments, some still whole and some having to be pieced back together, were unearthed only in the late 19th century. Important especially because they corroborated and proved correct written historical sources and manuscripts regarding the early Croatian rulers, kings and nobility, the early Croatian states and kingdom and their organization. Many of the inscriptions validate official royal charters, documents and letters, other written sources about the locations of their residences, various buildings, their independence and dealings with the Frankish and Byzantine empires, with the Venetians and later Hungarians, validating locations, events and especially names that were found also in foreign recorded sources and history archives. A vast majority of these specific archeological findings date from even over 300 hundred years before the arrival of the Hungarians into that part of Europe and the later Croatian Kingdom union with Hungary in the 12th century. Many of these stone monuments also included elements of the pleter and interlaced knotwork motifs and are dated to between the 8th and 12th century. The first archeological museum in Croatia was founded in Knin in 1893 and the finds were put on display. They can now be viewed in person along with many other archeological finds at the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in the city of Split.




Original damaged stone work on the right and reconstructed on the left, dated to the 9th century.




Stone relief panel with 3-ribbonned pleter knotwork motif dated to the time of Duke Branimir circa. 879 and found in Ždrapan near Skradin. (original was found damaged, darker areas in this instance were reconstructed based on original design)




Pleter decorative remains from the 10th century Lika region of Croatia. Image from Lika Museum.




Baptismal font of the Croatian Duke Višeslav who ruled from 785-802. Currently on display at the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in Split. Dated to circa. 796-803 , the text mentioning this early Croatian Prince is written in Latin and is carved from a single piece of stone with the triple braided pleter found within. According to the Royal Frankish Annals (Annales Regni Francium) and the historical work De Administrando Imperio, ascribed to Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus VII circa. 950, Duke Višeslav led his forces to victory against invading Frankish armies at the battle of Trsat, (modern day city of Rijeka) in the process killing their leader Duke Eric of Friuli.






This Pre-Romanesque sculpture is choir screen panel from the Church of St. Domenica (Sv. Nediljica) in Zadar is dated to the 11th century, it is a perfect example of the western oriented mindset and structure of the Croatian realms and culture in Central Europe as well as a Croatian pleter decorative motif. Moments from the daily life and organization of the local Croatian courts and assemblies, soldiers, peasants and nobles etc.




Many of the archeological museums in Croatia have displays of original stone remains featuring this 3 ribbon intertwined pleter pattern, but images of them all are harder to find. (Because museums want you to visit and see things in person). These below few examples also date from the 9th to 12th as part of buildings during the Croatian dynastic rule, they're just older black and white photos but the smaller remains and fragments also show good examples of the pleter motifs. (You'll have to go to the museums in person to see more and better photos and views, or you can purchase books about this topic that are available these days)






















A few more examples from fragments of window and door lintels and chancel screen pluteums from the municipality of Ston Croatia just west of Dubrovnik, and dated from the 9th to 11th century. These ones are also a few good close up looks of some of the creative variations used for the 3-ribboned pleter knotwork patterns.












Examples of commonly found motif designs on a number of Croatian Middle Ages stone work reliefs.




 How the historic Croatian pleter/troplet knotted interlace designs are incorporated into the official SOA emblem.  (Security and Intelligence Agency, Croatian: Sigurnosno-Obavještajna Agencija)




And lastly here's some bonus images I came across, not so much just of the pleter designs but also some other cool items from the same medieval Croatia era...swords, axes, helmets, jewelry, horse riding equipment, tools, drinking vessels and bowls etc. I thought they were interesting enough to add here while staying on the same general theme. The below text is an excerpt from MHAS - Muzej Hrvatskih Arheoloških Spomenika website, (aka Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments) a museum which was founded in 1893 in the city of Knin and these days located in the city of Split. The exhibition took place in 2000-2001 and it's from where I also got the images from, you can find out more information about the medieval Croatia era there at: www.mhas-split.hr....



***


MHAS is one of the oldest Croatian museums and the only museum in Croatia established that engages specifically in research, collections, presentations and the study of material, spiritual and civilizational culture of the Croats in Central Europe in the Middle Ages, especially from the VII. to XV. century, and particularly from the time of the early medieval Croatian state formation and Croatian Monarchial dynasties from the IX. to XII. century.

Under the auspices of the Croatian Ministry of Culture, the exhibition "Croats and Carolingians", was presented to the public from 20th December 2000 to 15th July 2001 and organized by the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in Split.

At the dawn of the new millennium, five cities celebrated the unity of the European Community, recalling Charlemagne and his times. The Carolingian presence in Central Europe resulted with the inclusion of the Croatian Kingdom and crown lands withinin the circle of Western civilization from an early period. New achievements during this era and in the Croatian lands were blended with the ancient Adriatic experience and its tradition, confirming that the early organized Croatian realms from the very beginning were of Central Europe origins.

Thus not long after the Croatian tribes arrived to ancient Pannonia, Dalmatia and Illyricum from areas north of the Danube and Carpathian regions, they were situated between the Franks and Lombards to the west and the Byzantine empire to the east in the balkans, and from an early time the Carolingian presence in the Croatian regions determined the continental faith and importantly from it emerged the Croatian civilizational worldview, as well as literacy, philosophy, arts, and culture in general. Almost a century of direct connection with the Carolingian world designated and confirmed for long centuries afterwards that the inhabitants of the Croatian political, geographical and civilizational sphere, and simultaneously first early organized realms, was to permanently be an integral part of the Central European culture and of the West, born precisely just at the time of Charlemagne.

This specific medieval culture of Croatia is also attested by various rich and monumental material, some of which can be witnessed by the diverse artefacts presented to the public during this exhibition.










Geopolitical and national monarchial map of continental Europe circa. 925-1000.










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