Today, Hyperallergic HQ is closed in observance of Armenian Christmas. Whether you celebrate Epiphany, Three Kings Day, Armenian Christmas, Feast of Theophany, and Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 6 or 7, we wish you a happy holiday!
We will be posting on a reduced holiday schedule today but things will return back to normal tomorrow.
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Image caption: Gospel illumination by the painter Yovhannes of Bekri (Vaspurakan), 1362. This detail of the Biblical Magi from a Nativity scene is in the historic Armenian manuscript library of New Julfa (Isfahan), Iran. The faces of the kings, according to Patrick Donabédian and Jean-Michel Thierry’s Armenian Art (Abrams, 1987), symbolize the three ages of man. “Note the inscriptions on the edges of the garments: the first is writing imitating Arabic characters; the two others have the word ‘king’ written in Armenian,” they write. The kings are labeled in Armenian (left to right): Melkon (Melchior), Gaspar (Casper), and Balthasar. It’s worth noting that Balthasar, in Christian legend, is believed to have been the king of Arabia, which may explain the Arabic script. Though why the artist chose to decorate both Gaspar’s (who hailed from India) and Melkon’s (who hailed from Persia/Iran) clothing with Armenian script remains a mystery.