CHORA MUSEUM

TOMB NICHES (Arcosolium) IN THE OUTER NARTHEX

The second niche on the western wall, northern axis, is a tomb niche (A).Above the sarcophagus lid level is a fresco painting of persons buried here. There is a figure on the left side sitting on an armchair, and two figures standing in front of it. Probably, this tomb niche should belong to a noble family from the court buried here. The upper part of the fresco has been destroyed.

The first niche on the western wall, southern axis, is a tomb niche (B).Above the sarcophagus lid level are the partially preserved fresco paintings of persons buried here. The scene contains three figures depicted standing side by side. The figures are wearing long court costumes (kaftan) and the costumes of those on the right and left side are decorated with Palaiologan monograms. The one in the middle is thought to be a child. The upper part of the fresco has been destroyed.

The second niche on the western wall, southern axis, is a tomb niche (C).Above the sarcophagus lid level are the partially preserved fresco paintings of persons buried here. The lower part of the fresco has been preserved whereas the upper part of it has been destroyed. The scene contains three figures wearing court costumes depicted standing side by side. The dress of the figure in the middle is decorated with Palaiologan monograms. This tomb belongs to Irene Raoulaina Palaiologina, a member of the dynasty. On the side walls of the tomb niche are full-length figures of a woman and a man in religious costumes on the right and left sides respectively. On the arch of the niche, in the middle, inside a mandorla, is a depiction of Blachernitissa. The medallion on the left side of this depiction contains the bust of Saint Cosmas of Maiuma, a writer of hymns (hymnographer), the medallion on the right side contains the bust of Saint John of Damascus, and the papers in their hands contain words about death. 

DEPICTIONS ON THE LUNETTES AND WINDOW ARCHES OF THE OUTER NARTHEX

The lunettes and window arches of the outer narthex contain depictions of saints inside round medallions. Additionally, there are depictions of full-length saints on the four main arches, and on the eastern section of the northern arch, the young saint Andronicus is depicted standing, wearing ceremonial clothes and holding a cross. This saint had been tortured during the reign of the Roman Empire Diocletian (284-305 AD), and he was canonized. The inscription here reads, “Andronicus of Cilicia”. 

On the western part of the arch, Saint Tarachus, a middle-aged soldier who had come from Cilicia, is depicted standing, wearing ceremonial clothes and holding a cross. This saint as well had been tortured during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD), and he was canonized. The inscription here reads, “Tarachus of Cilicia”.

The figure on the east side of the second arch east of the entrance probably belongs to George of Cappadocia, and the one on the west side of it to an unidentified saint. Saint George was born in the late 3rd century, he was tortured during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) when his Christianity was discovered, and he was executed.

The figure on the east side of the first arch south of the entrance probably belongs to Demetrius of Thessaloniki, and the one on the west side of it to an unidentified saint. The Roman Emperor Maximian (235-238) sentenced Demetrius, whom he saw among Christians when he came to Thessaloniki, to death. Thus, the saints on the arches are depicted looking at the faces of each other.

The saint figures on the east and west sides of the second arch south of the entrance could not be identified.

Hodegetriais depicted in the first northern panel among the panels on the east wall of the outer narthex, Anne with child Mary in her arms in the second panel, and Joachim is depicted in the first panel on the west wall. Probably John the Baptist is depicted in the first panel on the east wall in the south, and there is no figure in the second panel. 

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