Cypriot Funerary Icons: Questions of Convergence in a Complex Land

  • Annemarie Weyl Carr
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


One August 15th, in the sinking sunlight of late afternoon, I stood in the penumbra of Chartres Cathedral’s eastern chapels, savoring the stillness of the space and steeped in the blues of the Charlemagne window. Suddenly, I sensed that I was not alone. Peeved and wary, I swung my gaze around—to find Jeremy beside me, as rapt as I in the stories of the window. High above us, a fully armed Charlemagne rode silently into the dream of the sleeping Constantine. In a stained-glass nutshell, there was the convergence that each of us, in our own way, has struggled to grasp. That Jeremy was there seemed almost inevitable. His capacious quest for an understanding of the Crusades has stretched like a vast environment of inquiry around my own limited concentration on art in the one Crusader context of Cyprus. It is one glimpse from this realm that I offer here in his honor.1 I turn to the four centuries of the island’s western rule, first as an independent kingdom governed by the Lusignans and then from 1474 to 1571 as a Venetian colony, and ask about patterns of cultural convergence in a Crusader society. Its cities still punctuated by the looming hulks of Gothic cathedrals made mosques in 1571, Cyprus is a remarkable place in which to watch the interplay of cultures. At the same time, cultural boundaries retain a wrenching postmodern reality there. What, then, is one seeing—in a complex context like that of Cyprus—when one sees a confluence between confronted cultures in one facet of social activity: as in my case, in art. What historical weight can such an observation claim?


Fifteenth Century Mural Painting Panel Painting Gothic Cathedral Leventis Foundation 
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© Stephanie Hayes-Healy 2005

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  • Annemarie Weyl Carr

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