2. IMPLICATIONS OF BOGOMILISM
2.1. DEVELOPMENT OF FRESCO MURAL PAINTING IN MACEDONIA
The movement of the Bogomils, with its deeply national, religious and political programme became very massive, but it was not in a position to accomplish its political ideal: a Proto-Christian society of equality.
In the-then insufficiently developed social conditions, they could expand only their own cultural activities, which left a lasting mark in the entire later works. In reference to the influence of Bogomilism on the national being, Racin16F wrote the following, “Our national culture, our rich national folklore, the inexhaustive treasure house of our people throughout the many-centuries-old temptation – are more a result of Bogomilism than of Orthodoxy impact… Is there a more exalted phenomenon, ideal, and aim in our national past than Bogomilism? Many people are still imbued with it, thinking that they rely upon the best of the folk traditions although perhaps they are not aware how thoroughly national and simultaneously essentially Bogomil it is.”
Indisputable heritage of Bogomilism is the strife for spiritual liberation from the church authorities and from the idea of unchangeability of social relations. The instigation of the idea of a personal relation towards God, the exclusion of mediators – clergymen and priests is an aspiration towards reinforcement of person’s individuality, his capacity for creating and living without the constraints of spiritual dependence on the Church. In the core, it is the Orthodox Proto-Christian ideal we learn about from the gospels, and especially through the Gnostic gospels of the rest of the eight apostles whose records haven’t been included in the New Testament and Maria Magdalene’s Gospel. The strengthening of individuality and the organisation of resistance against exploitation, church or feudal, represents an act through which the individual becomes conscious of his potential active role in the world.
Parallel to the shaking of the restraints, by means of which the order in the Middle Ages functioned, developed the creative and the intellectual potentials of the individual. The ardent human needs for free life and work found their stimulus in Bogomilism. Reaching the bulk of the population and fighting for their dignity it was the keystone for further spiritual, cultural, and political revolutions, not only in our region but also on a larger scale in Europe through the activities of Cathars and Patarens. The different view of the world, opposed to the doctrine of the official church, provided grounds for progress of the thought and ambition of people embodied in Humanism and Renaissance – perhaps the greatest cultural revolution in Post-Christian times.
We are well familiarised with the disputes about the phenomena and reasons that were the basis for the development of Humanism and Renaissance, among which the basic one was in the bulk of the citizenry, the openly accepted dualism of Cathars and Patarens. With this, the Bogomil thought was positioned as the primary initiation of the development of the free citizen will, i.e. as its true pinnacle – the remarkable development of science and art.
This is the reason why the fact that the only paintings that were predecessors to the Renaissance paintings, according to the generally accepted Byzantine and Middle-Ages treatises, were created right in Macedonia, in the cradle of Bogomil thought – the frescoes Mourning after Christ, and the famous Pieta in the Church of Nerezi from XII century, 1164, as the most expressive representatives of the new spirit in painting in Macedonia, and also the other paintings from the same church, as the frescoes from the church in Kurbinovo, from XII century, too, year 1191.
Concerning these works of our famous icon-painters, Dimitar Kornakov wrote: what Byzantium could have done, but had not done was done by our icon-painters in Macedonian churches and monasteries. And while in Byzantine Middle-Ages art there were plays with serene expressions of the characters, without emphasised gesticulations and feelings, our icon-painter overcame those frames and in his own manner conveyed the human drama with dolor and sorrow, in a way not typical of his predecessors…
As for the quality, the anonymous but great icon-painter took the line of what is crucial. Namely, the icon-painter “stopped” the procession carrying Christ’s body at the instant when the mother of God falls to her knees, leaving her legs unnaturally separated, which is something that occurred nowhere in Byzantium, and so she embraces dead Christ’s body in her lap and kisses his face… Not a single painter before Nerezi had managed to create such an imposing work.17F
Aneta Svetieva, recording the activity of the Nerezi masters and the potency of their works, says, “here the masks of St.Sofia are put aside; the unrest of the living people is rendered. St.Sofia’s surrealism loses its purport: it becomes real. The saints’ faces are also varied, personal, specific. Christ’s body is different, even hairy. If dramatics and realism are harbingers of Pre-Renaissance then the master of Nerezi is for a whole century ahead of them…” The Byzantinist Gabriel Mie, as early as in the year 1916, realising the specificity of Macedonian painting, calling it a picturesque treasure house of general Byzantine importance, introduced the term Macedonian School. Its position in the global theological determinations dictated by the capital was made more apparent by the new scientific knowledge.18F
In the last decade of the 20th century very modestly and shyly emerged the representation about the meaning of Macedonian frescoes in the overall advancement of the two-dimensional fine art at a world scale. We will probably find the energy and valid arguments to qualify it with the place it rightly deserves – not a predecessor, but a true beginning of Renaissance.
It unequivocally deserves this with the power of the elements and the artistic expression, it bore in itself. It was the genuine consequence of the revolutionary Bogomil thought, which with the number of its followers in our region, and especially with the strength of its relation towards social circumstances and towards the individual and his inner energy, widely opened the gates so that the creativity of the individual would flourish, released from spiritual confinements as well as from the then commonly accepted Byzantine cannons.
16. Racin K., PROZA I PUBLICISTIKA, DRAGOVITSKITE BOGOMILI, p. 110-111
17. Kornakov D., OD PRVIOT GREV DO STRASNIOT SUD, Matica Makedonska, Skopje, 1999, 47-49
18. Svetieva A., MAKEDONIJA, KULTURNO NASLEDSTVO, SREDEN VEK, Misla, Skopje, 1995, 115-121