Technika ściennych malowideł bizantyjsko-ruskich. Część I - Przyrządzanie ciasta wapiennego i zaprawy oraz wykonywanie narzutów
TECHNIQUES APPLIED IN THE BYZANTINE — RUTHENIAN PAINTINGS PART 1: PREPARATION OF THE LIME PUTTY AND MORTAR AND MAKING THE TOPPING COATS FOR THE BYZANTINE-RUTHENIAN MURAL PAINTINGS
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In process of execution of the Byzantine-Ruthenian mural paintings the following three stages should be listed as basic: preparation of the lime putty, that of lime mortar, and the making of topping coats. The importance of all the above stages is being emphasized in all written records that have been preserved up to the present day. In addition to technological investigations the above-mentioned documents form the main source of our knowledge in the field of the painter’s techniques in use many years ago. From among the painter’s handbooks and other documents containing professional prescriptions and recommendations the oldest ones are coming from as late a time as the second half of the 16th century. Here should be named the „Tipik” by Nektariy, dated 1599 and a good deal of Russian manuscripts known under the name of „Podlinniks”. Among the Greek painter’s handbooks as the oldest one may be considered „Hermeneya” written after the year 1566. Quite a good deal of „Podlinniks” could be dated as early back as to the 17th century whereas the „Hermeneya” of Dionysos to the first half of the 18th century. The preparation of lime putty represented rather a complex and sometimes time-consuming procedure. Its main features were the mixing of lime with water, working it with the spade and the cleaning. The „Podlinniks” and particularly the „Tipik” provide a detailed description of methods used for removing of diluted salts (s.c. „emchugha”) from the lime by washing them out. The above washing process was aimed at reducing the content of harmful salts and at the same time at decreasing the binding strength of the future topping coat whicji the process had to some extent prevent its cracking. Among prescriptions included to the „Tipik” may be found an „old masters’ ” prescription that recommends the wintering of lime during the winter period and mixing the organic binders to the lime putty. The mortar was prepared from the lime putty with an admixture of suitable fillers. According to prescriptions under discussion the lime putty was mixed with the cut straw (of corn or grass) but also with tow and allowed a period of a few days for so called fermentation. The mortar of the first type served for preparing the lower while that of the latter type the upper topping coat. It was recommended in „Tipik” to add a proportion of sand to the lower layer. From among the fillers in use on the Ruthenian and Russian territories only the tow may be listed while on the Balkan and the actual territory of Turkey straw was used most commonly, and both the tow and straw in Poland. The sand admixture in varying proportions may be found in all the countries concerned. The topping coats for the Byzantine-Ruthenian paintings have underwent an evolution as result of which the s.c. monoliths containing the marble and limestone breakage and the pottery breakage most commonly used on Ruthenian territories were in time replaced by s.c. spongey plasters where in turn an organic matter was used in form of vegetable fibres. The monolithic plasters were applied in the early Byzantine period (the 8 th to the 11th century) and on the Ruthenian territories (the 10th to the 12th century). The origins of that type of plasters should be sought in Roman tradition. A ll the written sources baing in fact prescriptions of a later date list the s.c. spongey plasters only. At the execution of topping coats a careful attention was devoted to the cleaning of brickworks to be coated with the lime mortar as w e ll as to their suitable damping with water. The topping coats were thoroughly tamped and then carefuly smoothed. It was also recommended by „Tipik” to drive m ils into brickwork and, in full accordance with Cennini’s recommendations, to apply the moisture-resistant insulation where the brickworks were moist. The lime mortar was normally thrown starting from the uppermost left-side wall portions gradually moving down to the right side. The particular portions of the s.c. dayworks as a rule comprised the definite compositions. Both „Tipik” and Hermeneya” recommend the application c f the double-layer plasters the lower layer of which should be thinner while the upper thicker one. However, we know from observations made that the single-layer plasters were applied commonly enough (for example, in Macedonia and Serbia). For the Byzantine-Ruthenian paintings found on Polish territories plasters of both types were used. The thicknesses of plasters varied in different countries mainly depending upon the material used for erection of temples and the wall structure and tex tu re. They were thin on ashlars (ranging to a few m illimetres) and thicker on brickwork walls (1 to 4 cm). In addition to differences present in several types of plasters applied for the Byzantine-Ruthenian paintings quite a remarkable number of features common for both types may be named. Suitable fillers and especially the vegetable fibres furnished the plasters with strength and lasting freshness allowing the easier and longer execution of painting using al fresco technique. It were the plasters then that played decisive part in the choice of manner by means of which were executed mural paintings belonging to the Byzantine- Ruthenian tradition.
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