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hieratic representations of stories/pictures

English translation: Greek "hieros" = priest

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:hieratic
English translation:Greek "hieros" = priest
Entered by: Deb Phillips
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00:41 Aug 27, 2002
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary
English term or phrase: hieratic representations of stories/pictures
The most important innovations of content and form in art, inspired by faith full of emotion, were intended to enable the spectator to become devoutly involved in the scene represented. This purpose could be achieved, first of all, by scenes into whose spirit and reality he could enter, above all by the Passion, the story of the most human sufferings of Jesus, with the events awakening compassion. A similar role is played by the Virgin's maternal joy and sorrow. But the two prevailing principal types of religious painting up to the fourteenth century - namely the narrative or hieratic representations of stories - did not satisfy the spectator who was not interested in the sequence of biblical events, and did not want to admire God from a distance but desired to identify himself emotionally with a particular scene. This demand had motivated the transformation of pictures of the traditional type into devotional ones. This principle was applied to narrative compositions by singling out and stressing a single moment in the original sequence of events, and then emphasizing its emotional rather than its historical overtones. (See this process in Christ Carrying the Cross by Master Thomas.) Thus the unapproachable, timeless and hieratic pictures become imbued with universal human emotions, and create in them an atmosphere in which the spectator can submerge himself and meditate contemplatively upon the emotional impact of the scene before him. Compositions produced in this way could be adapted - by an exchange of motifs or a shift of emphasis - so that variants of the same theme are often totally different in their impact and implications.


hieratic

Part of Speech adjective
Definition 1. of, pertaining to, or used by priests; priestly or sacerdotal.
Crossref. Syn. ecclesiastical
Definition 2. of or designating a simplified form of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Related Words clerical

Derived Forms hieratical, adj.


sacerdotal
Part of Speech adjective
Pronunciation sae sEr do tEl
Definition 1. of, pertaining to, or functioning as a priest or as a mediator between God and humanity.

Related Words clerical , spiritual

Derived Forms sacerdotally, adv.


ecclesiastical
Part of Speech adjective
Definition 1. of or related to the church and clergy.
Example ecclesiastical garments.
Synonyms cleric , churchly , spiritual (4) , hieratic (1) , ecclesiastic , hierarchal {hierarch} , clerical (2)
Similar Words pastoral , priestly , religious , holy

Related Words pious

Can anyone help me to understand what this means?
hieratic representations of stories/hieratic pictures.
Does hieratic translate here as religious, in which case I don't understand the juxtaposition to narrative representation.
Deb Phillips
Essential
Explanation:
I think answers 1 to 3 go progressively further in explaining this, and maybe I can continue the trend. "Hieratic" is from Greek "hieros" = priest, and is the adjectival form, roughly "priestly". What hieratic means here is representations which are intended to encapsulate the essence of a character or event.

Your text seems to delineate four stages of development of representation. First there were simple representations. Then came narrative representations, and then the "unapproachable, timeless and hieratic" representations. This was however not enough (it says) for those wanting to get emotionally involved, and there came a fourth stage which should fulfil this desire.

This third stage, the "hieratic", thus consists of representations which are neither simple representations, nor narrative, but also not yet providing the function of involving the observer emotionally. They are images in which the essence of a character, event or idea is expressed, for the purpose of facilitating prayer.

I just got through translating a book on a 13th C saint, so I am a bit in practice with this stuff. :-)

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Note added at 2002-08-27 05:14:47 (GMT)
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Looking back on it, I am not so sure I have really added anything to Irene´s answer.
Selected response from:

Chris Rowson
Local time: 18:14
Grading comment
Thank you!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +3EssentialChris Rowson
3 +4highly stylized and formal
Kim Metzger
5essential NOT
Christopher Crockett
5a form of hieroglyphics
Libero_Lang_Lab
3 +1revealing theological meaning
Irene Chernenko
4Fixed by Religious Tradition
Christopher Crockett


  

Answers


11 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
a form of hieroglyphics


Explanation:
Hieratic script was a basic writing form used by the Egyptians for everyday communication.

the link below gives more detail.

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Note added at 2002-08-27 00:53:52 (GMT)
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Hieratic is the cursive form of Hieroglyphic writing which the Egyptians used for everday writing. Hieratic developed very early in Egyptian history, and remained in use for most documents until around 700BCE when it was replaced by Demotic. However, Hieratic was still used for religious documents on papyrus until the old priesthood was disbanded.

Hieratic, as the practical form of writing, was the first type of writing that the Egyptian scribes learned. Hieroglyphics were only taught to advanced students. As a result, many scribes could not read Hieroglyphic inscriptions, or only with difficulty. This is, of course, exactly the opposite of what occurs now - Hieroglyphs first, then Hieratic for a select few. Hieratic texts are now usually transcribed into Hieroglyphs in order to be studied.

Hieratic signs correspond exactly to the Hieroglyphic signs which would be used to write the same text. The same rules of spelling and arrangement of signs applies to Hieratic as to Hieroglyphic.

Over the course of its history, Hieratic changed. A major change occurred around 1300BCE, resulting in \"Ramesside\" style writing. What we shall be looking at here will be \"Middle Egyptian\" style Hieratic, used in the Middle Kingdom and 18th Dynasty. Most of the Hieratic signs will be taken from Papyrus Leningrad 1115, the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor, since the scribe who wrote it had nice, clear handwriting.

Hieratic was written from right to left. In the earlier part of the Middle Kingdom, it might be written either in columns or lines, however later it was only written in lines. The individual signs were drawn starting from the top left of the sign, which is easier for right-handed people. Horizontal lines were generally drawn from left to right; verticals from top to bottom.



    Reference: http://home.prcn.org/~sfryer/Hieratic/introduction.html
Libero_Lang_Lab
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:14
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 137

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Karina Pelech
3 mins

disagree  Christopher Crockett: Though what you say is certainly true, I'll have to disagree with this definition *in this case* : The Middlevils just weren't into Hieroglyphs all that much, I'm afraid..
19 hrs
  -> harsh words.. I wasn't suggesting that hieroglyphs was the translation here, just giving some background - but ta for the history lesson. ;-)
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20 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
highly stylized and formal


Explanation:
One definition given my Merriam Webster's is highly stylized and formal. I think this may apply to your text.

"But the two prevailing principal types of religious painting up to the fourteenth century - namely the narrative or hieratic representations of stories - did not satisfy the spectator who was not interested in the sequence of biblical events, and did not want to admire God from a distance but desired to identify himself emotionally with a particular scene."

Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 11:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2249

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Libero_Lang_Lab: yes, Kim, in context that would make good sense... I guess my version simply explains the origins, but not how you would actually interpret it in the context of 14th century religious art!
6 mins
  -> This is a little above my head, I must say.

agree  Hermeneutica: Yes, this is best without actually falling into "error" ... I have often seen "hieratic" used as something static, fixed, almost statue-like ... think of the image of a priest in ancient times!
6 hrs

agree  Christopher Crockett: An Al Gore : Very Close, but No Cigar. I've tinkered a bit with this idea below.
18 hrs

agree  MikeGarcia
20 hrs
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39 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
revealing theological meaning


Explanation:
I think, given your extensive references, "hieratic" here means opening up the theological significance of a biblical story - as opposed to simply telling the story. So hieratic painting would be revelatory but still, perhaps, emotionally distanced from the spectator, such as the stylised representation in icons of significant saints.

Irene Chernenko
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in pair: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Libero_Lang_Lab: you're on form tonight then Irene
3 mins
  -> Thanks Dan. I walk and talk in my sleep.

agree  Chris Rowson
3 hrs

disagree  Christopher Crockett: No. The word normally refers to the style or, if to the iconography (as, perhaps, in Deb's case), to its traditional, conservative nature. See my comments below.
18 hrs
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
Essential


Explanation:
I think answers 1 to 3 go progressively further in explaining this, and maybe I can continue the trend. "Hieratic" is from Greek "hieros" = priest, and is the adjectival form, roughly "priestly". What hieratic means here is representations which are intended to encapsulate the essence of a character or event.

Your text seems to delineate four stages of development of representation. First there were simple representations. Then came narrative representations, and then the "unapproachable, timeless and hieratic" representations. This was however not enough (it says) for those wanting to get emotionally involved, and there came a fourth stage which should fulfil this desire.

This third stage, the "hieratic", thus consists of representations which are neither simple representations, nor narrative, but also not yet providing the function of involving the observer emotionally. They are images in which the essence of a character, event or idea is expressed, for the purpose of facilitating prayer.

I just got through translating a book on a 13th C saint, so I am a bit in practice with this stuff. :-)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-27 05:14:47 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Looking back on it, I am not so sure I have really added anything to Irene´s answer.

Chris Rowson
Local time: 18:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 243
Grading comment
Thank you!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Libero_Lang_Lab: maybe you've not added anything to Irene's answer, but you've done it with such panache...
9 hrs

agree  Irene Chernenko: Perhaps we've said the same thing: me in a more populist way, you more academic.
15 hrs

agree  MikeGarcia: Yours is a hieratic answer.. Great!!
17 hrs
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18 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Fixed by Religious Tradition


Explanation:
Seems to me that Kim is on the right track with "highly stylized and formal," but part of the problem is that Art Hysterians sometimes use this 8-bit word without really knowing *what* it means, eggsactly.

The O.E.D., as usual, comes to the rescue with :

"1.c. Applied to a style of art (esp. Egyptian or Greek), in which earlier types or methods, fixed by religious tradition, are conventionally adhered to. Also fig."

though the instances of use it quotes are so old as to be not particularly helpful in the context of Kim's quote :

--1841 W. Spalding Italy & It. Isl; I. 176 Art in all its stages, from the rudest of the archaic or hieratic paintings to the finest design and finish of the Macedonian times.


--1846 C. Maitland Ch. Catacombs 240 The intaglios of Kamai, almost the best hieratic work in existence.

--1877 A. B. Edwards Up Nile xxii. 710 Sculptured in what is called the hieratic attitude; that is, with the left arm down and pressed close to the body.

All three of these quotes are typical of the way the word is frequently mis<i/>used, istM, becomming simply a descriptive synomym for "stiff" or something of the sort.

(I note that the OED needs to add this definition.)

I'd say that the essence of the concept is "Fixed by Tradition," which, in the case of Deb's text refers to the extremely conservative --one might also properly say "archtypical"-- nature of medieval style and iconography.

Kim's "Highly Stylised" is thus close to the mark, but somewhat ambiguous.

Chris' return-to-the-roots effort is worthwhile, but what we're dealing with here is (and I am too lexicographically challenged to know the proper term of art) the transmutation of the meaning of the word away from the first, nearly literal, meaning of it

("Pertaining to or used by the priestly class" --OED),

which was based upon its etymology

("L. hieratic-us, a. Gr. ieratikoj priestly, sacerdotal, devoted to sacred purposes, f. *ierat-oj vbl. adj. from ieraomai to be a priest.")

to an associative meaning

("fixed by religious tradition").

Of course, Medieval Art --or that very tiny portion of it which has survived down to our own benighted epoch-- is overwhelmingly "religious" or "priestly" and therefore, by definition, "hieratic."

But the sense of Deb's passage goes beyond that tautology and relates to the conservative "stylisation" (if you like) of both Iconography and Style which also characterized the art of the whole 1,000+ year period.

The change in the art of the Late M.A. which is capsulized in Kim's quote relates to the change in the consciousness of Late Medieval Europeans, itself at once something of a rejection of the more detached forms of representation which had satisified their fathers for so many centuries and the intense searching/yearning for another, more direct and personal, interaction with the Numinous through artistic expression.

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Note added at 2002-08-27 19:26:29 (GMT)
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My apologies for cluttering my already convoluted text up with html tags; I\'m still getting the hang of this site and thought that they would \"read\" properly on the page.

Christopher Crockett
Local time: 12:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 124
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1 day15 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
essential NOT


Explanation:
The only problem with this suggestion is that "hieratic" does NOT mean "essential" in the two sentances where it appears in your text :

"...namely the narrative or hieratic [essential??] representations of stories..."

"Thus the unapproachable, timeless and hieratic [essential??] pictures"

Moreover, I'd be interested to see *any* art historical text where "hieratic" is (correctly) used in the sense of "essential" --much less any dictionary reference which offers this definition.

Christopher Crockett
Local time: 12:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 124
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