Dairo D-Korkamo, Monastery of Deyrul Zafaran, Deir Za’afaran, Saffron Monastery
6th century AD
The Deyrul Zafaran monastery is located 5 km east of Mardin, halfway up the side of a mountain ridge on which are sited a number of smaller, abandoned churches (both built and rock cut). The monastery was first named after its original founder, Shleymon (6th century AD) and was later renamed after the metropolitan bishop of Mardin, Mor Hanayo, who refounded and renovated the monastery (793 AD). The Monastery of Mor Hananyo remains its official name today, though the local population refers to it as Deir Za’afaran (Arabic for 'Saffron Monastery'). The name has been in use from the 15th century for various reasons, including the saffron-colored stone of the buildings, the saffron-colored dye used in the plaster, and the saffron flowers growing around the monastery.1
- 1. DelCogliano 2006, 327.
Description & Iconography
'Description & Iconography' general sources: Preusser 1911, 49–53; Bell and Mango 1982, 69–70; Hollerweger 1999, 340–359; DelCogliano 2006, 326–331.
The monastery was built on the foundations of a pre-Christian temple dedicated to the sun god (Shamash), probably built sometime during the first millennium BC. The site remained in use into the Roman period.
The monastery’s earliest history is uncertain; it is said to have been founded by a certain Shleymun about whom nothing more is known. The main church and Beth Qadishe are dated to the 6th century AD on the basis of construction methods and carving styles. The monastery was refounded in 793 AD/CE as the seat of the metropolitan bishop of Mardin and Kefertuth Mor Hananyo (Ananias), after whom the monastery took its official name. This monastery was again abandoned but was refounded once more around 1125 AD. Since then, it has continued to flourish. From 1293 until the early 20th century, it was the seat of the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch.
'History' general sources: Bell and Mundell Mango 1982, 132–133; Balicka-Witakowski et al. 2001, 165–166; DelCogliano 2006, 326–331.
Balicka-Witakowski, Ewa, Sebastian P. Brock, David G. K. Taylor, and Witold Witakowski, eds. 2001. The Heirs of the Ancient Aramaic Heritage. Vol. 2 of The Hidden Pearl: The Syrian Orthodox Church and Its Ancient Aramaic Heritage, edited by Sebastian P. Brock and David G. K. Taylor. Rome: Trans World Film Italia.
Bell, Gertrude, and Marlia Mundell Mango. 1982. The Churches and Monasteries of the Tur ‘Abdin. London: Pindar. Reprint, with new preface, notes, and catalogues, of Gertrude Bell’s The Churches and Monasteries of the Tur ‘Abdin (1910) and Churches and Monasteries the Tur ‘Abdin and Neighboring Districts (1913).
DelCogliano, Mark. 2006. “Syriac Monasticism in Tur-Abdin: A Present-Day Account.” Cistercian Studies Quarterly 41: 311–349.
Hollerweger, Hans, et. al. 1999. Turabdin: Living Cultural Heritage. Linz: Freunde des Tur Abdin.
Mundell, Marlia. 1977. “Monophysite Church Decoration.” In Iconoclasm: Papers Given at the 9th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, edited by Anthony Bryer and Judith Herrin, 59–74. Birmingham: Centre for Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham.
Preusser, Conrad. 1911. Nordmesopotamische Baudenkmäler: Altchristlicher und Islamischer Zeit. Wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichung der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 17. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs'sche.