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  • Rethink the Future

"The conservation of The Red Monastery "

One of the most striking examples of the Byzantine art could be found in Egypt at the so-called “Red Monastery” (Formal name Apa Pishoy Monastery) in Sohag, Egypt.

Occupying the upper Egyptian city of Sohag, this Coptic monastery follows the footsteps of the Egyptian saint Pishay or Pshoi. The red monastery, the name imitated from the color of the construction material of the peripheral walls reposing red, burnt bricks, spectacles many of the earliest phases of Christian monasticism. The red monastery boasts chunky walls at the bottom that tapers to the top and are crowned by concave Cavetto moldings with a regular circular pathed curved profile. Primitively, the red monastery was a closely weaved group of hermits that came under the coenobitic rule. This rule was initiated by Shenoute’s predecessor Pcol and backed by Shenoute. This monastery presents a fine blend of Pharaonic, Roman civic, and Christian architectural styles.

..."Almost nothing is known of the history of the Red Monastery (Deir al-Ahmar, Deir Anba Bishoi or Bishai) near Sohag, though it is one of the most famous Christian monasteries in Egypt. "

The Significance:

The decapod conservation trail has divulged amazingly phenomenal yet extant paintings of the Byzantine period. This conservation has exposed the quadra painting efforts of various artists of the 5th and 6th centuries. Though blooming with a comprehensive painted adornment, the church’s particularized architectural style resounds the aesthetics of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.

The red monastery project:

Endowed in 2002 with the sole purpose of conservation and the research of wall paintings and architectural elements, the red monastery project, directed by Elizabeth S. Bolman, ran in parallel collaboration with the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Coptic Orthodox Church. Administered by the Egyptian Antiquities project and the Egyptian antiquities conservation project of the American Research center in Egypt and funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the red monastery project concluded in 2014 with revived paintings and decorations and the church reusable for a Coptic monastic community. Bolman noticed the capability of a breathtaking restoration project priorly in the mid-1990s on perceiving the scintillating paintings and details concealed below centuries of desert dirt, incense, and candle smoke.

Paintings and Sculpture:

Almost every interior surface reveals paint and art dating back to about the 6th and the 8th centuries. The subtle portrayal of Christ, the Virgin Mary, apostles, evangelists, prophets, and angels boosts an intricate chain of messages of salvation, sketching its delicacy through patterns and with colors with dynamic motifs and estimated concepts. The conservation cycle never reposed repainting. The impaired, lost, and mislaid features of the red monastery, chunked with a freshly prepared plaster, had the same constituent proportions as the pioneered. These repairs, as bright and white as the snow, carried the vision plane of the viewer away from the celebrated and memorable historical paintings. Hence the creative conservators had to use the aqua sporca (dirty muddy water) technique to reverse the visuals and divert the focus of the human eye.

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