- 1 Bolonić – Žic Rokov 2002, p. 24.
1Pope Innocent IV in 1252 gave the Benedictine monastery of St. Nicolas in Omišalj permission to serve liturgy in the people’s language using liturgical books written in the Glagolitic alphabet.1 This language is nowadays known as Old Church Slavonic of Croatian redaction. One very important remnant of the tradition of glagolism in Croatia, and on the island of Krk, are Glagolitic inscriptions.
2Inscriptions are not a first rate source for paleographic research because of distortions in the ductus of letters. This happens for two reasons. First, the metodology of making an inscription implies the work of two persons. One is the author of the text who writes the text on a template. The other is the stone mason, most likely illiterate, who treats the template as a picture which he transposes to the stone. The second reason that changes letter’s anatomy lies in the hardness of the stone, on which the inscription is made with heavy equipment, a hammer and a metal chisel.2
3Glagolitic inscriptions are short and stereotypical in content, and quite often fragmentary, damaged and hard to read. As a rule they are a part of a larger entirety, sometimes in the form of objects, other times architecture. They are found on churches, bell towers, transoms, tomb stones, town squares etc. Since they are text bearing they are first rate historical sources. Nevertheless, this paper is orientated towards the meta data that primarily does not have a strong connection with inscription text.
4It is important to be aware that stone is heavy, and if it is shaped intended for construction, it is also precious. Therefore, an inscription stands where it originates. Its movement, if it happens, is minimal and always within the local community. Glagolitic epigraphic monuments represent key evidence in deriving geographic determination for the use of Glagolitic script. They are a power point of cultural geography, a milestone and border stone of Glagolitic culture.3 Furthermore, a higher number of found inscriptions indicate stronger Glagolitic roots in a region, frequency of usage and acceptance of the script in the community. Therefore, each Glagolitic inscription « speaks » before delving into the reconstruction of its content.
5The concept of Glagolitic inscription implies formal primary text most often made in stone, wood or metal. Usually, manufacturing of Glagolitic inscription is conditioned by an occasion, most often finishing the construction or reconstruction of an architectonic object. Its textual function is primarily informational. The inscription is a witness to an event important for the local community. The brevity and the routine of inscriptions derives not only from the minute size of an inscription’s surface, but also from the emphasized informational function of the inscribed texts that, in general, answer three basic questions : When was it done ? What was done ? Who is the author ? « Where », in the context of Glagolitic epigraphy, is typically redundant because the inscription is an integral part of the object which the inscription refers to, therefore the setting is self-explanatory. It is equally redundant to ask « why », i.e. the reason behind the action, given that the prevalent percentage of inscriptions refer exactly to the construction of churches or the events inscribed on tomb stones.
6As opposed to inscriptions, Glagolitic graffiti has an informal character, it does not represent a primary but rather a secondary written track incised with a blade or written with color, and usually has no relation to the object on which it is inscribed. Its textual function is not primarily informational though it does provide information of some sort. The function of graffiti is to testify ; it is a testimony of the author’s presence, state of mind and ultimately of his existence. They are the fruit of the author’s inspiration, often humor or provocation. Their origin is not motivated by an occasion of formal nature but exclusively by author’s inspiration. Neither preparation nor planning are typical for graffiti. Contrary to inscriptions that are usually made by two persons – the author and the stonemason, graffiti are work of one person and therefore represent better material for paleographic analyses.4
7That being said, the direct relationship of an inscription to the community in which it originated is clearer. Inscriptions record, proclaim and save from oblivion meritorious members of the community who contribute to the prosperity of the local collective. These are investors, masons, priests and other reputable members of society. On the other hand, graffiti is individual, personal and private. It does not have to relate to the Glagolitic community as a necessity. Even though they flourish inside these communities, they can also originate from the outside, which is impossible in the case of inscriptions. There is no need for a formal cause to make graffiti, a mere wish of a Glagolitic monk is enough to note a thought and leave a trace. Hence, graffiti can originate during a Glagolitic monk’s journey through a non-Glagolitic region. On the other hand it is absolutely impossible to have a formal public Glagolitic inscription in a non-Glagolitic region. Therefore, the existence of graffiti does not represent sufficient evidence to conclude that a region is a Glagolitic region, but the existence of inscriptions reveals the strongholds and confines of a culture ; in this case Glagolitic culture.
8Bearing in mind all the differences that exist between inscriptions and graffiti this paper will use the term inscription for all generalities and in those cases, it will represent both inscriptions and graffiti. In situations when the context is not general the essential difference between inscription and graffiti will be acknowledged.
- 5 Bolonić 1980, p. 48., Bolonić – Žic Rokov 2002, p. 165, 166.
- 6 Bolonić 1980, p. 24
- 7 Provider of the city of Krk and the island
9The clergy of the island's diocese was organized in institutions of capitol or in Croatian : kaptol or kapitul. In each of the collegiate capitols liturgy was held in Old Church Slavonic, and liturgical books, mainly missals and breviaries, but also other handbooks, were written in Glagolitic script. Krk’s bishop Alojzije Lippomani in his report to the Holy See from 1628 notes that the clergy of the collegiate capitols use breviaries and missals written in Glagolitic script and serve liturgy in the people’s language.5 Because of this the whole diocese was also known as Diocesi Illirica and its Glagolitic priests as Presbyter Illiricus.6 Opposing collegiate capitols was the cathedral capitol, the bishop’s headquarters, situated in the town of Krk and its clergy held the liturgy in Latin. The distinction between the Latin oriented center and the Glagolitic oriented periphery was clearly seen even in the title of the Venetian providur in Krk whose official title was Provveditore della citta di Veglia ed Isola.7 But despite the dominance of the Latin practice, Glagolitic script and Old Church Slavonic was also used in the town of Krk.
- 8 Corpus of Glagolitic inscriptions from the island of Krk is identyfied according to Fučić 1982, Fu (...)
10The corpus is analyzed according to seven different criteria : quantity, geographical distribution, medium, original or secondary location, lost monuments, content and dating.8
- 9 For geografic distribution of Glagolitic monuments see Milčetić 1883, Milčetić 1884, Fučič 1981, F (...)
11There are 116 inscriptions originating from the island. Of this 116 only ten are graffiti and the rest are inscriptions. According to the quantity of found Glagolitic inscriptions, and in comparison with the quantities of other Glagolitic areas, either in part or in general, it is possible to conclude that the island of Krk is the epicenter, or one of the epicenters, of glagolism.9 Therefore, the colloquial term for the island as the « Glagolitic cradle » is justified even according to the number of found inscriptions.
12The geographic distribution of inscriptions is not even. There are 14 sites in which inscriptions were found, but six of them deserve special attention according to the quantity of findings : Vrbnik, Omišalj, Dubašnica, Dobrinj, Glavotok and Baška. These six sites yielded a total of 103 Glagolitic inscriptions out of which nine are graffiti. The remaining eight sites gave a total of 12 inscriptions and a single graffiti.
13Analysis of their geographic distribution reveals that the aforementioned six centers of glagolism overlap with the old collegiate capitols or centers of the island's parishes which were all using the Glagolitic alphabet. In spite of being the center of the diocese, and because of that being Latin oriented, even in the town of Krk two inscriptions were found. One of them « The Krk Inscription » is considered to be one of the oldest inscriptions in general, dated to the eleventh century, most probably the second half of the century.10
- 11 Some are carved in wood and some are written on it.
14Only seven inscriptions are done in a medium other than stone. Four of them in11 wood and one in each : metal, mortar and paper. These numbers indicate the relation of the medium and the longevity of inscriptions. Obviously stone is long-lasting, but that can also be said for metal. Regarding longevity, it is relevant that Glagolitic stone monuments are always an integral part of a larger entity, a building or a wall for example. On the other hand, most of the metal objects are small and portable, for example a cup, or a box, and because of that they tend to migrate. Also, functional objects have their lifespan of functionality. Any plausible evaluation of remaining quantities implies consideration of these three aspects that are in direct relation with the longevity of the object bearing inscription : durability, portability and functionality.
15Out of 116 inscriptions 38 of them were not found in situ. Only a few inscriptions were made visible in their secondary locations. Usually they were simply considered building material.
- 12 Lost inscriptions from the island of Krk are identyfied according to Fučić 1982, Radić 2011.
- 13 According to my knowledge the last theft of an epigraphic Glagolitic monument was done in the city (...)
16According to published material on Glagolitic inscriptions from the last half of the nineteenth century onwards to the nineteen eighties a total of 15 inscriptions have vanished.12 In a little over one hundred years more than 13 % of scientifically known Glagolitic monuments have disappeared. Three of those monuments were intentionally ruined, others are missing.13 It is reasonable to assume that the actual number of lost inscriptions is now even larger. This implies that greater protection over Glagolitic cultural heritage is required.
17The corpus is divided into seven different categories according to the inscription topic or textual function.
Inscriptions bearing witness to the construction or reconstruction of mainly sacral architecture form the first category. In other words these inscriptions tell stories about construction of churches, chapels, altars and houses or later, the complete or partial upgrading of them. A total of 60 of such inscriptions were found. Only five of them have some sort of profane origin, and the rest are unambiguously related to sacral architecture.
Glagolitic inscriptions carved on tomb stones. There is a total of 14 of them. These are carved on tomb stones of Glagolitic priests or lay person whose acts assured them a burial inside a church. It is possible to determine that five of those tomb stones are for priests, and six are for lay persons, quite an intriguing and unexpected situation. For the remaining three stones it was not possible to determine whether these were for priests or lay persons because two of them are fragments with only a piece of the inscription, and the third has an inscription which is unreadable. Although Baška tablet is not a tomb stone but a chancel screen it is necessary to mention that it was used for a while in a functional sense as a tomb stone covering a lay person’s grave. The fact that most of the Glagolitic inscriptions discovered on tomb stones so far were found exclusively in churches, is a clear example of the relationship between the ambience in which the inscription is placed and its longevity.
This group consists of three inscriptions of votive character. Two are textually identical, done by the same hand and probably in the same short period.
This category consists of only two inscriptions which are made on small movable church objects. The first is on a metallic box for sacred oils; the Glagolitic inscription differentiates oils for various ritual purposes. The other is on a reliquary and this inscription differentiates the remains of 30 holy persons. The textual function of these inscriptions is identification.
- 14 Of Franciscan lay monks.
- 15 In Glagolitic script numerical values are expressed through letters. So it is possible to treat th (...)
This category consists of 13 one-letter inscriptions made on tomb stones in the Monastery of St. Mary in Glavotok.14 These inscriptions can be interpreted as markers that identify the graves with the book of burial in which the priests registered the burials.15 In the context of Glagolitic epigraphy these markers represent an atypical situation.
It consists of damaged, partially readable or partially understandable inscriptions. Total number of inscriptions is 13.
Consists of graffiti. Total number of found graffiti is ten.
Fig. 1 – Inscriptions’ topic
18Outside of this categorization based on the content is the inscription of the Baška tablet. Even though it is in part akin to the first group of inscriptions, those whose content talks about construction, it appears wrong to categorize it in that group. First of all because the text does not speak only of the construction but speaks as well of the bestowal of king Zvonimir, and also gives other information that have nothing to do with the construction of the church. Thus, its content transcends the topic of construction. On the other hand, inscriptions whose topic is construction as a rule originate immediately after the construction ended. Based on the preliminary results of my research it appears probable that the inscription on the Baška tablet did not originate immediately after the construction or reconstruction of the church of St. Lucy ended but sometime after it. Therefore, the cause for making the Baška tablet inscription was not the ending of construction work on the church but something else.
19Regarding the dating, inscriptions can be divided into four major groups. Inscriptions that have the dating engraved are considered to be directly dated and those form the first group. Inscriptions that do not have the dating engraved are called indirectly dated inscriptions because their dating is determined through an indirect method, usually a paleographical analysis of the inscription, or with the help of relevant historical facts. So, all of the inscriptions not bearing the engraved date are in fact indirectly dated inscriptions. The third group consists of inscriptions for which, according to their textual function, the dating is redundant. The fourth group consists of only two inscriptions for which it is not possible to confirm whether they were dated or not.
Group 1 : Total number of directly dated inscriptions : 78.
Group 2 : Total number of indirectly dated inscriptions : 16.
Group 3 : Total number of inscriptions for which the date is redundant : 20.
Group 4 : Total number of inscriptions for which it is not possible to determine whether they were directly dated or not : 2
20From the total number of found inscriptions (116), those from groups 3 and 4 ought to be removed for the purpose of further analysis based on dating. Of the remaining 94 inscriptions 78 are dated directly and 16 of them indirectly. When looking at this smaller group of indirectly dated inscriptions it is important to notice that 11 of them are found as fragments. It is reasonable to suppose that, if not all, at least some of those were dated. So considering the dating of inscriptions, there are only five integral16 inscriptions that do not bear an engraved date. Four of those are graffiti, according to their content none of them needs dating as a necessity, and the fifth is an inscription made on a group tomb stone owned by two families. For this last inscription the same conclusion applies as for the aforementioned graffiti : it cannot be defined as an inscription on which the dating would be redundant, but according to its content it is not a necessity.
- 17 Nineteen of them have only the year engraved and only one the year and month.
21In the directly dated inscriptions group (1) all of the inscriptions have the dating engraved, a total number of 78. There are 20 inscriptions that consist only of dating17, the remaining 58 inscriptions consist of Glagolitic text plus dating. Five inscriptions mention the month and the year, and 14 of them give the day, month and year. According to this data it can be concluded that Glagolitic inscriptions are directly dated in general ; it is obvious that stone inscriptions provide two of the most valuable coordinates for their analysis : time and place.
- 18 This method ought to be used on the whole corpus. Then it would be possible to compare the product (...)
- 19 The four Jurandvor fragments, being considered as parts of the right chancel screen in St. Lucy, a (...)
- 20 Fučić 1988, p. 70.
22Given the precision and the frequency of dating it is possible to obtain clear insight into the number of preserved Glagolitic inscriptions depending on the time in which they were made.18 There are two inscriptions dated to the oldest Glagolitic – epigraphic period from the eleventh to twelfth-century transition period. These are « Krk’s Inscription » and « Baška tablet »19. Then there are three inscriptions dated to the fourteenth century. There is a significant rise in the number of found inscriptions from the fifteenth century and a peak in production during the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century the production decreases, though for the research presented in this paper this is irrelevant. An inscription, found in the Convent of St. Francis in Krk dated 1868, according to Branko Fučić represents : « the last dated case of the Glagolitic alphabet in continuous use in the Glagolitic tradition of Glagolitic lay monks. »20
- 21 Except Baška tablet, which is dated circa 1100.
23Analysis of the chronological distribution of Krk’s Glagolitic inscriptions reveals an intriguing gap between the oldest Glagolitic inscriptions dated during the eleventh to twelfth century transition, and the epigraphic continuity traceable from the fourteenth century onwards. Not a single inscription was found from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.21 The first directly dated inscription from the fourteenth century is from the year 1340. Hence, there is a significant period of approximately 240 years in between the oldest Glagolitic inscriptions and the epigraphic chronological continuity.
Fig. 2 - Chronological distribution of Glagolitic inscriptions - illustration
24The interpretation of this unexpected cronological distribution of the island of Krk's Glagolitic epigraphy is additionaly complicated by the affirmative attitude of Pope Innocent IV towards the island's Glagolitic tradition. In 1252 he unconditionaly allowed Omišalj's Benedictines the use of Glagolitic script and people's language (Old Church Slavonic) in the liturgy. Isn't it therefore logical to expect higher production of Glagolitic epigrafy in that period ?
25The temporal distribution of Glagolitic inscriptions, mainly the separation of the Baška tablet from otherwise centuries-long epigraphic continuity, implies that a revision of the current Baška tablet dating hypothesis should be made. Systematic presentation and re-evaluation of arguments on which the current hypothesis is based form the core of ongoing research. For the purpose of this paper only the pertinent aspects of the indirect inscription dating of Baška tablet are mentioned.
- 22 Fučić 1957, p. 247.
- 23 Fučić 1957, p. 257.
26Baška tablet is the left screen of the chancel in the Church of St. Lucy. It is a limestone chancel screen 199 cm long and 99.5 cm wide.22 It was proven to be built within the chancel contemporary with the construction of the church walls.23 Atypical for a chancel screen, it bares the longest known Glagolitic inscription staggered over 13 lines. Besides the inscription the front plane is also decorated with a border ornament running through its top part.
27The current hypothesis explains the context of origin and dates the Tablet in these essential notes :
- King Zvonimir during his reign (1076 – 1089) gave to St. Lucy a lea.
- Držiha was a witness to the fore mentioned giving, most likely as the abbot of the monastery.
- Immediately after Držiha the abbot became Dobrovit, who together with nine of his brother monks built the Church of St. Lucy and ordered the carving of the inscription and ornament on church’s chancel screen, sometime around 1100.24
28It is important to note that the inscription of the Baška tablet was dated indirectly by :
- 25 All of the researchers of the Baška Tablet made paleographical analyses of the inscription and acc (...)
- 27 Vežić is the first researcher who disputed that the vine ornament is an integral part of the inscr (...)
Dating of the ornament on the border of the chancel screen.27
- 28 Inscription's content was ussually interpreted as if abot Dobrovit was the author of the inscripti (...)
Content of the inscription.28
29According to aforementioned ongoing research the interpretations and conclusions of each of mentioned four methods of dating are arguable.
- 29 Previous work on this matter done by Pavuša Vežić.
30In continuation a very important argument, for the dating of the inscription, will be presented. The argument proves that the vine ornament in the top part of the tablet is older than the inscription. This discovery is of key importance because this vine ornament has always been regarded as an integral part of the inscription and the inscription has been dated through the vine ornament as contemporary with it. This argument proves exactly the opposite. The inscription cannot be dated as contemporary with the vine ornament, it was made later.29 This argument is not based on the architectonical or paleographical facts that we know about the monument. It is laid on the sensitive ground of perceiving the chancel screen from the author’s point of view, or to be more precise, from the stone mason’s point of view.
- 30 Vežić 2000, p. 181.
- 31 Vežić 2000, p. 180.
- 32 Ibid.
- 33 This fact was noticed while doing a research on the Sun-church relations in situ on the day of St. (...)
31Before we go into this argument it is advisable to mention some relevant facts that indicate that the chancel screen has been re-used in the current church. Firstly, the Glagolitic inscription is not centered on the chancel screen itself.30 Secondly, the pilaster has two slots made on adjacent sides. This indicates that the pilaster should be considered as a corner pilaster in which two chancel screens are built-in, therefore the pilaster is also re-used.31 Thirdly, physical dimensions of the chancel screen add up to the argument that this screen was not made for this church nor for any other church that has an equal or smaller width of the nave. The chancel screen is too large for the Church of St. Lucy. The dimensions of the screen dictated an architectonic improvisation and therefore it was built directly in church’s wall. The usual practice implies having a pilaster on both ends of the chancel screen–at the wall and at the center of the chancel.32 The screen is then connected to pilasters with crafted projections. Given the size of the chancel screen and the width of the church this kind of scheme was not possible in the Church of St. Lucy. It would have resulted in a significant reduction of the central part of chancel, which would prevent communication between the nave and the presbytery.33
Fig. 3 - Chancel in the church of St. Lucy (photo by Kristijan Vučković)
32The hypothesis of chancel screen reuse in the Church of St. Lucy is also supported by the still visible leftovers of the projection on its left side surface.34 This indicates that this chancel screen, in its original position, was built in pilasters on both sides. Therefore, the complete front side of the chancel screen was visible in the church of its origin. These four observations sustain the claim that the chancel screen was reused in the Church of St. Lucy, which is inconsistent with the current scientific hypothesis. The next question considers the origin of the vine ornament.
- 35 Vežić 2000, p. 181
- 36 Fučić 1957, p. 257.
- 37 On the other hand the inscription was done respecting the fact that part of the chancel screen is (...)
33The vine ornament appears to be in accordance with chancel screen’s original position. It runs through the entire length of the tablet. This fact indicates that the vine ornament was already carved on the chancel screen at the time of its reuse in the Church of St. Lucy.35 It would be hard to explain why the stonemason carved the vine ornament on the very left edge of the tablet knowing36 that this part would not be visible.37 On the other hand, it is possible to lessen the meaning if this observation by claiming that the stonemason made a mistake, a human error, and carved those six centimeters that should not have been carved. The consequence of such an interpretation validates contemporaneous dating of the vine ornament and the inscription.
34As it appears, determining whether the chancel screen bears one or two cultural layers is of foremost significance for the correct dating of the inscription. It is necessary to prove whether the carved vine ornament on the first six centimeters on the left end of the tablet should be interpreted as a stonemason’s mistake or his intentional act. If it turns out to be an intentional act then it is mandatory to advocate the existence of two cultural layers, the vine ornament and the inscription. And with that, the argument of the mutual dating of the vine ornament and the inscription becomes implausible.
- 38 Fučić 1957, p. 203, Jurković 1990, p. 156, Vežić 2000, p. 180.
- 39 This is in accordance with both Jurković and Vežić dating of the church nave walls. Jurković dates (...)
35It is important to emphasize that the dating of the vine ornament has never been disputed. It represents typical art form at the end of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth century.38 Therefore, this implies that the revision of dating of the inscription is required. It follows that the church in which the chancel screen was reused is more recent than the dating of the vine ornament. It is plausible that a reuse of an early Romanesque chancel screen happened in a late Romanesque church.39
- 40 Pejaković 2000, p. 135.
36Baška tablet observed as a body in a three-dimensional space represents a rectangular cuboid. Its frontal plane, on which there is a Glagolitic inscription and a vine ornament, when observed as a two-dimensional surface represents a rectangle. The ratio between the length and the width of the front plane is 2 :1. If the length is marked as a and width is marked as b it follows a =2b or b =a/2. As a rule, in art history, whenever there is a rectangle of such ratio, the golden section is present.40
37Observed from the geometrical perspective the frontal plane of the Baška tablet consists of two parts. Throughout the whole length of the tablet, there is a line that divides those two parts. In the upper part is the vine ornament, and below the line there is the Glagolitic inscription. The organization of the frontal plane – the relationship between the ornamental border and the inscription plane is, by respecting the proportions of the golden section, brought to perfection.
- 41 Pejaković 2000, p. 135.
- 42 Therefore the altitude of the bordure was also made respecting the dimensions of the stone.
38In a geometrical sense this practically means that the diagonal of the front plane of the Baška tablet, was reduced by the length of the shorter side of the rectangle (b) and the rest was transferred to the length of the longer side of the rectangle (a), by doing so this determined the point that divides the length (a) in two parts, maior and minor. Transferring the minor on the shorter side of the rectangle (b) defines the line that divides the vine ornament, in fact the bordure itself, from the inscription plane.41 The most important fact is that the ratio of the golden section was made based on the real, physical dimensions of the chancel screen.42 From this, it follows that carving the vine ornament in the first six centimeters of the chancel screen, the part that was built in the wall of the church of St. Lucy, cannot be interpreted as stonemason’s mistake but as his conscious and intentional act.
39The difference in origin of the vine ornament and the Glagolitic inscription is proven by the fact that the stonemason who carved the vine ornament inside the border defined its height in relation to the real dimensions of the stone tablet.43 Therefore, he respects the fact that the chancel screen, in its original position, will be built in the chancel so that its projection fits inside the pilasters on both sides and thus, the whole frontal plane of the chancel screen will be visible.
- 44 This also proves as untenable Jurković’s hypothesis, according to which the chancel screen together (...)
40On the other hand, the stonemason carving the inscription does not consider the real dimensions of the chancel screen. He has a different perception of the geometry of the frontal plane. He respects the fact that a part of the chancel screen disappears in the wall and thus places the Glagolitic inscription in the center of the visible part of the frontal plane. The Glagolitic inscription is in the center of the visible part but out of the center when considering real dimensions of the chancel screen or its frontal plane. This discernment in the perception of the relative size of the chancel screen substantiates the fact that the vine ornament and the inscription are not contemporary. The vine ornament was made for the original position of the chancel screen and the Glagolitic inscription, as its content confirms, was made for the Church of St. Lucy where the chancel screen, together with the vine ornament was reused. This confirms that there are two cultural layers on the Baška tablet. The vine ornament which is older, and the Glagolitic inscription which was added afterwards.44