23 May 2009

Ag. Marina at Kazarma

Ag. Marina is in a valley behind the fortress of Kazarma, up the road from the Mycenean bridge. The chairs suggest how very small it is. It was probably built as a burial chapel -- we'll get back to that later. The next photo suggests that there was a collapse of the roof or wall at the rear -- too small to call it an apse -- so that it was clumsily, very clumsily, rebuilt.

The inside has a minute narthex, with an arched entrance to the chapel. The chapel has a stone iconostasis with an arch in the center and another arch on the side. None of these three arches is symmetrical or has the same arc or height. One almost has the impression that the builders had themselves never actually seen an arch before.

Thirty years ago, Ag. Marina was nearly hidden in its valley by damp green grass and shrubbery -- after rains, water came down the hillside all around it. The inside smelled of mold and the candles were too damp to light.

Since then, a dirt road has been put through which channels the water away from the chapel, the grass is regularly cut, and someone keeps the paint around the front door fresh. It has acquired electricity and those chairs.

It was completely frescoed but damp and age and incense and smoke have long since turned the frescos black though ghosts of images remain.
Chunks of plaster have fallen off from old age, and others have fallen where nails were hammered in to support icons.

Fooling around with Gimp on the pictures I tried to take of the wall brought to light a reddish robe over a white gown, possibly of Christ, and of a woman in a white dress of the kind non-Greek women wore in the 14th and 15th centuies. There is too much damage for me to say whether or not she is facing someone, but it was usual to represent an unmarried woman in white in her tomb portrait. This portrait is on the rear of the iconostasis -- not at all a conventional place for such, but that was one of the only two areas in the church with enough space.

This woman in white is a tremendous addition to the historical materials of the Argolid. Otherwise, I have found only five named women in the 15th century: Soi, a serf; Kyria Malaksos, a priest's wife; Maria Buriano, defrauded in an investment; Maria de Cavaza, a land-owner, and producer and dealer in her own linen and wool business; Magdalena de Finctis, Ms. Cavaza's sister-in-law. To be so few, they are a nice variety. Six more unnamed women are mentioned in passing, and there are references to "families."

Ag. Marina was most likely built as a burial chapel for a fief. There are a number of these small chapels around the Argolid, and they will, slowly, allow us to work out general impressions of the locations of the medieval fiefs -- some of them we know had about 200 acres.

But unlike medieval chapels and churches on main roads or beside towns, Ag. Marina has never been formally identified, and it certainly has not been tidied and restored. I am not much interested in disrupting its life. I like the unmatched chairs in front -- a good place to eat lunch or rest when you are hiking, or pruning the olives across the road, but I would like to see those frescos, and the fragments of the others, cleaned up and protected.

[Ag. Marina is continued here.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

I will not publish Anonymous comments.