3 THE EAST: TOWARDS THE THIRD
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Striving to represent the perfection of God’s House, like the contemporary Byzantine quincunx, metropolitan and monastic churches seem from the outset to have risen to predominance in pyramidal gradations over Greek-cross plans – the former more complex than the latter as beﬁtted their ceremonial pre-eminence. They were ﬁrst built of logs like everything else and,hence, the imported domical ideal was expressed in the folk vernacular with the degree of elaboration warranted by the importance of the commission and the availability of materials: 11th-century chronicles referring to octagonal, tent-roofed and thirteen-domed ediﬁces indicate virtuosity comparable to the most spectacular surviving permutations of the perennial tradition. The result is in clear contrast with the stave tradition of the Rus’s Norse relatives.1.90-1.92
Immediately after the ofﬁcial adoption of Christianity, Vladimir called on his brother-in-law for experts to initiate monumental masonry building in Kiev with the quincunx church of the Tythe of the Most Holy Mother of God.1.93a After the invocation of the Byzantine ideal, Russian ecclesiastical architecture may be seen primarily in terms of varying the imported theme within the constraints of a tight form: the variations embraced the number and conﬁguration of ambulatories, narthexes, apses and domes within or above an envelope which remained roughly rectilinear,at least on three sides,and which might or might not be articulated with pilasters, arcades, gables and stringcourses which might or might not relate to structural reality. Running in counterpoint was the folk theme which invited richer development: the native timber tradition continued to assert itself in organic accretion of major and minor motifs in a hierarchy of clearly differentiated masses expressing the distinction between primary and ancillary space – formally or freely disposed.We have seen the result in wood: we shall see it also in masonry.