The Chora Museum

The chora museum was something I had only read and studied in my art history and architecture textbooks. However, I had the privilege of seeing it up close and in person this spent week, while in Istanbul. The mosaics were made during the Byzantine empire, hence the excessive use of gold in the images. Images of the Pantokrator and Theotokos were right before my own eyes, which was astonishing, because I had never thought I would see those pieces of art in person. Every single little tile was essential to the image, which made me think of how intricate and delicate the work must have been. It also made me think of how much strife and damage and time the museum must have underwent throughout the years. It also made me think of what the museum would have been like when it was not a museum, but an actual church. What would it have been like to worship here, with tho ages in their full splendor and glory? What was also very interesting was that some of the icons had their eyes or faces scratched out, but the remainder of theirs bodies were in tact. Could that haves possibly been because of the wave of iconoclasm that passed during the time? Was it vandalism, done by children And kids my own age? Seeing those mosaics really made me so grateful for this trip, because I would have never had the chance to see my education transform into an experience right before my own eyes. The walls of the museum itself were also very intriguing to look at. They were dilapidated stone, and contrasted with the shimmering mosaics. How many prayers were whispered in these walls, and what ceremonies took place during its prime? By going to this museum, we answer those questions with our own experiences and personal narratives.

-Lananh Nguyen

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