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  • James Tam 谭炳昌

The Caucasus (2) — Religion 高加索掠影(2)-宗教

We are supposed to be tolerant of religion no matter how absurd it is; but religions have not been very tolerant of others. Throughout the Caucasus, there’s nearly nothing left of its pre-Christian glories; they have been brutally destroyed or craftily painted over by organised religions long ago. All that’s left from five millennia of Caucasian civilisation are churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and memories of savage conflicts incited by gods. In less than three weeks, I saw a lifetime’s worth of crosses and churches and monasteries. I suspect there are more crucifixes and monasteries in Armenia and Georgia than in Heaven itself.


Pilgrims at Geghard Cave Monastery, Armenia 亞美尼亞 Geghard 山洞修院的朝聖信徒

Pilgrims at Geghard Cave Monastery, Armenia (2) 亞美尼亞 Geghard 山洞修院的朝聖信徒 (2)

The Armenian Apostolic Church is the oldest National Church (established 301 CE), and had supposedly been founded by the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, no less, presumably before they died. It is independent from the Catholic Church, and runs its separate spiritual (and tourist?) centre in Jerusalem. In Armenian cathedrals, it’s common to see obeisant Christians hugging the Bible, kissing icons, or crossing themselves ecstatically, soliciting God for mundane favours, begging recovery from illness rather than blissful reunion with Him in Heaven.


Khor Virap Monastery near Yerevan 埃里溫市附近的 Khor Virap 修院

A Georgian priest at Jvari reviewing his Bible, again 格魯吉亞的神父讀了一生人的聖經,仍然希望溫故知新

Georgians are nearly as devout as Armenians, but apparently less passionate in expression. Traditionally, Georgian monks hid in caves to ruminate on the ferocious nature of God, and make colourful graffiti of the same old themes — Last Supper, Crucifixion, Ascension, and so on, all over the mountain side. The David Gareja Complex, with it’s famous frescos, is an awesome legacy of cave-dwelling monks from the 6th century. Looming precipitously over the border with Azerbaijan, the scenery is breathtaking, a must go for any visitor to Georgia.

One of the caves at David Gareja Complex, Georgia 格魯吉亞David Gareja的山洞修院

格魯吉亞對宗教的熱忱與亞美尼亞差不多,但作風較含蓄。格魯吉亞從前的修士,喜歡躲在山洞里冥想求神,閒來壁上塗鴉,可惜畫來畫去都是耶穌同門徒食飯,釘十字架,升天等題材,創意不高。但六世紀的 David Gareja 山洞修院,猶如個巨大蜂巢,幾百個山洞分布在與亞美尼亞接壤的平原上的峭壁,是個十分詭異的古蹟景點,絕對值得一游。

A little prayer at Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia 一名魯吉亞神父誠心禱告,求神保佑快高長大

Eh, Anyone dropped a head? 嗯,誰掉了頭哦?

Azerbaijan is the only Muslim country in Southern Caucasus. 90% of Azerbaijanis call themselves Shiites but religion doesn’t seem a big deal there, and is not a source of social tension. The mosques were nicely deserted. Ironically, they might have to thank the Soviets for having removed Allah from their list of Popular Causes of Death. Contrary to what they tell us in the news, not all Muslims are fundamentalist.

阿塞拜疆是南高加索唯一的回教國家,90% 屬什葉派。但宗教在這裡倒不怎麼狂熱,不同教派的人基本上和平共處,沒有衝突。這可能要多謝蘇聯時期的宗教政策,讓這人口稀少的國家擺脫了一項熱門的殺人動機。伊斯蘭國家在國際「自由傳媒」的宣傳下,形象都比較狂熱。但在南高三國之中,阿塞拜疆的宗教氣氛最淡薄。

Final group picture of some famous Christian martyres 一批著名的基督教烈士死前的集體畫像

Link to: The Caucasus (3) — Faces of Armenia and Azerbaijan

鏈接到 高加索掠影(3)-阿塞拜疆與亞美尼亞的面目

#Photos #摄影 #高加索 #Caucasus #Religion #宗教

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