Miyak (deep carving) style

 “The appearance of carved iconostasis at the end of the XVIII century is synchronized with the appearance of similar works on the islands of the Aegean and Ionian Sea and in separate centers in the Balkans – Miyak, Samokovski, Trevnenski, Banski and Metsovski (Epirus) carving workshops. Over time, their work in literature will be termed as “carving schools”. “…

“The Miyak woodcarvers, who were staying on Mount Athos with woodcarving masters in the workshops of the Italocritical School, nurtured the post-Byzantine traditions brought from the West.” …

As far as the work style of Miyak woodcarvers is concerned, in the literature it’s considered  that the original style of Miyak woodcarvers- artists is the free use of plant forms in very diverse compositions with human and animal figures. It is also thought that, at the beginning of the 19th century there was a center formed by Miyak woodcarvers who created their own “style” of woodcarving, unlike other schools, and they created a new direction in the development of woodcarving. (Excerpt from the book “Macedonian Carving” by Dr. Dimitar Kornakov).


The Miyak style features a high relief (“carving”). It has its base in the XVII and XVIII century Mount Athos carving school. It gets its name from a population called Miyaci from the Malorek region of Western Macedonia. There, woodcarving groups are sometimes created by more than one family member. Some of them also studied woodcarving and icon painting. The famous iconographer DichoZograf in his early youth participated in a woodcarving group of workers. The famous iconographer Dicho Zograf in his early youth participated in a woodcut.
On the other hand, the most famous woodcarver, Peter Garka from the Filipovci genus (he gets his nickname from the village of Gari where he came from) was called Petre – the painter
( Zograf ).  It is precisely their approach, their high liturgical culture and church life that will emerge to the greatest woodcarving works of the 18th and 19th centuries, the iconostasis of the monasteries of St. Gavril Lesnovski – village Lesnovo, St. Spas in Skopje, the most representative in St. John the Baptist , St. John Rilski and so on. The carving craft has grown into high church art, not just a decorative ornament.

         After years of work and research, we can now say with certainty that Miyak style is one of the most difficult cuts in wood in general. One of the most representative elements is the pillars. They are internally torsional, some with external processing although it is very dense in its content. They seem almost impossible to accomplish.

         The hardest and most representative parts are the so-called small boards under the throne icons. They are made of all 6 sides (they are 5 in the field of view) and reach up to 6 levels of in-depth elements.

The most famous artists of woodcarving in this period are Peter Garka, Makarie Frchkoski, Peter’s brother Marko from the genus Filipovci and so on.

What we have previously explained, is their top masterful achievement in this craft.  What sets them apart is their creativity in spiritual sense, their high liturgical awareness, especially of Peter Garka.

Intertwined with flora and fauna, framed by small baroque frames (enough to separate event from event) they will feature many biblical themes, scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the life of  Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Saints, the angels … Such virtuosity and Godliness in this craft and art will not appear anywhere else in the Orthodox world, not even on Mount Athos where these masters have their teachers.

A few examples of Miyak style: