Cycle of the Infancy of Christ and of Christ's
The east side of the fifth bay of the outer narthex continues the Infancy of Christ. Herod Inquiring of the Priests and Scribes, in the fifth lunette, is partially preserved . Troubled, Herod searches for the newborn King of the Jews.
Opposite Herod Inquiring of the Priests is The Mothers Mourning Their Children in the west lunette of the fifth bay . The evocative vignettes convey the emotion of the scene. Grief is shown in women's gestures and expressions as they hold their slain and dismembered offspring.
This discussion of the Kariye Camii iconography
is adapted from Robert G. Ousterhout, The Architecture of the Kariye
Camii in Istanbul, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library
and Collection, 1987. We would like to thank Professor Ousterhout
for generously allowing us to adapt his text for this Web site.
The outer and inner narthexes are decorated with mosaic cycles of the lives of
the Virgin and Christ. Both begin at the northern end, with thematic and visual
references linking the two cycles.
The cycle of the infancy of Christ
and of Christ's ministry begins in the domical vault of the first bay of the
outer narthex and concludes in the south bay of the inner narthex. The story
is taken up directly from the previous narrative. As in the inner narthex, the
narratives are sometimes contorted to fit the domical vaults. Normally two different
episodes appear in each vault.