Cardeña Beatus

Cardeña Beatus f.1A, Double arch

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f.1A, Double arch

From an architectural approach, the arch represents the entrance to the very holiest of places i.e. the church. Transferring this concept to the codex, it is identified as a type of temple, a sacred place in which the contents of the work are revealed to readers in order to teach and edify them by means of text and images. The arches symbolise the inside of the temple where the writer and illustrator carry out their mission aimed at readers, the equivalent of the faithful. The two horseshoe arches, the type recalled in the codex to evoke the 10th century, sit upon slender columns with plant-motif bases and capitals. Each arch houses another two arches, giving a notion of perspective emphasised by means of the thick, gold gilding upon said arches in the foreground. The layout of the framed arches with empty circles in the Manchester Beatus was considered by Williams to be undoubtedly the outcome of recycling a folio intended originally for the Genealogies, which led him to surmise that it was the model used for the Cardeña codex. It is in fact the unfinished folio from said codex which corresponds to the Genealogies (fol.7r in the Morgan Beatus ms. 429), in which heads of biblical characters are depicted inside the circles: a device repeated throughout the series. The circles form part of a diagram with four arches, which in the Manchester Beatus are reduced to two arches depicted on folio 1r. Unlike the Morgan Beatus, the double arch in the Cardeña Beatus opens the codex, a conceptual difference in comparison with Beatus 429.

Ángela Franco Mata
Chief of the Medieval Antiquities Department, Museo Arqueológico Nacional
(Fragment of the Cardeña Beatus commentary volume)

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