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Can we speak of a canopy—an architectonic object of basic structural and design integrity, most often comprising four columns and a roof—as a ‘primitive hut’ in Byzantine architecture? This chapter posits that Byzantine canopies can indeed be viewed in this way. The primitive hut—the essential architectural unit and the ideal principle for architecture—was first outlined by Vitruvius in the 1st century BCE, further theorized by Laugier in the 18th century and elaborated as a hut-tent-cave by Quatremère a century later. The role of a canopy as a hut-tent, examined within the general concepts of space and place of the Byzantines, may be extrapolated from biblical texts as well as from preserved 6th-century texts by Dionysius the Areopagite, who first introduced the philosophical notion of type and archetype, and is also manifest in texts by early Christian and Byzantine theologians, such as Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (2nd century), and Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople (8th century). Augmented by visual and spatial models of the canopy, which were strongly related to the Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Temple, and further enriched by Christological and Marian concepts, the canopy emerges as an architectural parti, invested with its own material-immaterial complexity and particularly highlighted within the performative contexts of the religious traditions of the Byzantine-rite churches. The Byzantine canopy should be considered in relation to biblical architectural references, enhanced by the pervasive influences of Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic philosophies, which reiterate the notion of Vitruvius’s hut, in contrast to the rationalist and positivist elaboration of the primitive hut by Laugier and Quatremère. In this context, the origins of the Byzantine canopy—both the hut and the tent—cannot be located in the natural world, however, but in nature as absolute, in divine creation. Yet both the canopy of the Byzantines and the primitive hut of Laugier, Quatremère, and other modern architectural thinkers promote the pursuit of the truth in the matter by giving type (shape) to the typeless (shapeless) archetype. Such an understanding of the primitive hut is also the basis for understanding tectonics in architecture as suspended between its physical and metaphysical realms. The canopy of the Byzantine-rite church can and should be understood as a ‘primitive hut,’ this chapter suggests, as a theoretical house, an intellectual exercise, an aesthetic concept, and a design principle in architecture, which is critical for including Byzantine accomplishments within revised architectural typologies and for the more inclusive systematization of architectural knowledge.

In: Type and Archetype in Late Antique and Byzantine Art and Architecture
This book addresses typology of Late Antique and Byzantine art and architecture in eight wide-ranging contributions from an international group of scholars. A dialogue between type and its ultimate source, archetype, surpasses issues of formalism and conventional chronological narratives to suggest a more nuanced approach to typology as a systematic and systemic classification of types in the visual landscape of the pagans, Jews, and Christians.
Set against the contemporaneous cultural context, select examples of Mediterranean material culture confirm the great importance of type-and-archetype constructs for theoretical discourse on architecture and visual arts. Contributors are Anna Adashinskaya, Jelena Anđelković Grašar, Jelena Bogdanović, Čedomila Marinković, Marina Mihaljević, Ljubomir Milanović, Cecilia Olovsdotter, and Ida Sinkević.