Update on Despots Mikhail’s fresco at Dolna Kamenica, Bulgaria
In November I had the pleasure to meet and work with Professor Georgi Atanasov, author of the remarkable book „The insignia of Medieval Bulgarian rulers.“ He turned my attention to the details of the fresco representing Despot Mikhail in the Church of Dolna Kamenica, Bulgaria. Thanks to his help, I analyzed in detail the unique crown of the Despot, and developed new schemes of reconstruction of its possible appearance. Not purport to exhaust all options, I think I managed to bring the major.
Who is Despot Mikhail, King’s Son
The sign in the church says „Despot Michael, true to Christ God Mikhail King’s Son …“. Theodora Bernard examines the various versions of the identity of this despot and accepted as the most reliable proposition that it is unknown from other sources son of Tsar Michael Shishman of Bulgaria.
According to the priesthood Mikhail is wearing a very beautiful festive outerwear, adorned with thick yellow ribbons covered with pearls. Among them are embroidered birds and lilies. All researchers agree that birds are two-headed eagles, but plaster is scratched and despite my careful gaze I could not see clear signs of this.
The closest parallel to this crown is depicted in Dragusin Ivan, son of despot Altimir, fresco in Poloshkiya Monastery (1343, 1345). Both ornaments have teeth, crowned with pearls, three large gem and propenduli. Again, however, the similarity is not complete. Crown of Dragusin probably was the same on all sides – with four evenly spaced arches four gems.
The three jewels are three different sizes and shapes and are not evenly distributed but are clustered in front. And finally, the final teeth are lined all the way up to the borders of large pearls. This allows the existence of separate front and rear parts as well as the Hungarian royal crown of XII century
In the schemes I give my options for the possible original form of the crown, top and side. I assume that the front decoration is symmetrical, with a large gem in the middle and two identical, smaller, on both sides. If it is made according to Byzantine traditions on the back of your head it should have one more stone, which is mentioned in the picture.
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