You are on page 1of 84


1075 a mysterious individual named Kekaumenos,


in the counsels of Kekaumenos. Both strategies also figure in the mid-tenth-century works knowQ as the Baak rif Geremanie.>and On tlze Administratian rif tlze Empire, compilations attributed to Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (sole rule 945-39). In these texts it is obvious what is offered and what is received, but in many cases where we have only an object unaccompanied by such specifications, it is difficult to know whether it was a present from or to the emperor. If it is dear that the so-caed David Casket in the Palazzo Venezia in Rome (fig. 19) was given to the sovereign (and his spouse) - the inscription on the lid, above an image of Christ blessing them and the donors saluting this event, speaks of the 'couple ofservants [who] adore as they should, the imperial couple' - it is far from certain whether a dismembered object like the leaf shoving Constantine the Great2 and probably alluding to his tenth-century successor denotes his demonstratian of piety before the lost central membel' of a triptych presented by him or a gift to him celebrating this attitude . Such problems are inherent in many instances of this sart and teing in the ambiguity they present since theyattest to value s ideally shared by the ruler and his court. In other words, it is less important whether a piece originated at the emperor's or an aristocrat's behest than that both parties to the artistic transaction participated in a comman ideology. Central to this body of thought was the ruler's we-being, for on this depended that of the empire over which he ruled. His longevity, divinely protected physical health and ability to defeat his enemies were seen as concomitants. These beliefs are linked on an ivory diptych, the two parts of which are now divided. On the leaf in Venice (eaI.75), as on anather in Dresden,3 SS. John the Theologian and Paul are said in the epigram at the top to protect an emperor Constantine - almost certainly Constantine VII - from harm, while

who seems to have been a highly placed military governor, counselled his peers:
If someone revolts and prodaims himself emperor, do not support his scherne but stand a!oof from him ... Prcserve fealty to the emperor in Constantinople and you won't fai! in your expectations ... i beseech you ... to side with the emperor and to keep serving him, since the emperor who has his court in Constantinople must always win.'

More than a moralising plea for loyalty, this piece of adYice implies that the reader might take the opposite course and move against the emperor ~ a possibility frequently realised in the long history of Byzantine conspiracy and usurpation. Both fealty and expectations characterise the nature of those objects that we have, works of art that in one way or , another may be associatea with the Byzantine court as things emanating from, or presented in, this milieu. As against the long-Iost physical . environment and decoration of the Great Palace,
Fig. 'g The 'Da_id Casket', cnd of ninth century.
10.3 16.1

these thihgs sti speak of the pretensions and ambitions of those who made use of them. The offering and reception of gifts (and titles), and broad suspicion as to the motives underlying such gestures, play a sizeable part



i :11'1"

ni" !e \' enice !c"L no\l' n \ icnn" "nCi Pe[er are eksnilxd p"cihc. oratorieal stam'l' as to

,\ndn'' \Hlnl's

in li'nn his sins. lt is intnesting "re depicted in philosophe<

ll' rok assignecl to him in the

Idlliii./m/i //lie Em/Jire. in dich


a "ictan'

O\Tr the Sb\'s ancl andmarsh<l. apostlc

('ntiun of 'the im'incibk and captain

. Ile 'arrior i ilc diflerl'nce


dldlll and "icorios \d,

., i


is c:--:plained by the saint was century . \hen the again


that this nulti-talented

"III"d 111">11 n play in the nid-tenth

111>11' c:
li "

L i' complenent<rity


"nc! inscriptions Venezia,

on a triptych,

are considereel

(fig. :20).


\ ing the legenel eleclares th<t, with the ruler in Venicc" -- possibly iootecl by the Latins from the Great Palaee or the Church emperor Romanos. of St Sophia Fig.20

d( 11<'11' ,( [he lour n<rtyrs depicteel, ,lc:.lll1. '11<'1111'


likcly Constantine

VII) puts his repeateel half

IliGht - a sentimenr

Trip!""" "ith Deisis ~llld ~aints, micl-tl'lltl

cCl1nry. x

("111111 !'er in a poern on the page facing

i i

on the foot of which divine aid is invokecl for an Ancl on the even more richly at Limburg an cler on the by Basil the proedro5 (a highgem-stuclclecl cross-rcliquary Lahn,7 sponsorecl ranking

ln))"'y, Qo.8

lll,, ll"I"

ur Basil

II in his Psalter Hankeel

7.6 en1 (ler \\"ingl; 23.6 ;:.,q.. 2 cn (central


i '(iII

nilitarv saints (fig. s), where the central to iVlary for from all to his

pbqul'): 2'''9 x 6,9 cn

(right "'ing)

111;11'1\ r

.n are elescribed as his 'allies'. ehris!'s instructions

11111 du i~ram on the triptych's ll!'ll)('1 "bles ,lld),,11 iilw"., l'.li\

civilian clignity), an inseription (VII) ancl Romanos as Christ shatterecl the twdfth

frame asserts that, with the help of the Cross, Constantine the barbariam (I or II) ensh the gates of century sole reign, He ancl,

ic B<ptist, the intercessors

11lll;li" t, lo reJcase Constantine


"s He subjects all powers

Hcll. Appropriations partieularly

of this sart are rile on works

,Jl'csentati\e." Illscriptian on the ert wing the

fiom the ninth through

cluring Constantine's

'i '11)('11 '

( redited with the carving of the

i. miliar

oceur on ieos in a variety of materials. masqueracles the Proclromos plaque as the first emperor (Forerunner)


topos in Il'hich the sponsor to have be en its incleecl, is clescribecl in a of other crali:smtn." Yet,

of that name,

unekrstoocl htantine,

crownecl by Christ, in the pose use cl to depict as he baptiscd ivan' on a \\'oocl :i"

'(O] f'\-

te:--:tas <n artist in his own right recor'

Christ in the Jorclan," in Moseo\\' King Abgar rceei\'ing panel at i\Iount see, he appears

on a well-known the \Ianclylion

(cat.63); ;md in the guise of "kll to


" ,kills <re mythical, 'llsll1<f'<; thr i


the object <Sa of the


in \\'hieh Christian

Sinai." Rcpealcdl),

" [umecl to the bendit

as Da\'icl in the Paris Ps:tltcr

,i, is so

in the ease of a dalice

(cat. 60). Bm the e:--:ploitation of an;logies



.J udeo-Chrisan

Antiquily as limited neither

Tripeveh \Vith
Crucifixion and saints, mid-tenth cCIHury.

to the person nar the time of Constantine VL This ruler's marriage to Helena, daughter of his predecessor Romanos (920-++), lent new impetus to the long-established image of Constantine the Great and his mother Helena, do were regarded as archetypal defenders of the faith. They stand together at the foot of the Crass on a magnificent ivory in the Cabinet des ~Iedailles, Paris (fig.21), thus supplementing the traditional iconography of the Crucifixion represented by the Borradaile triptych (cat. 78). If size and excellence in carving are evidence

koryo 20.8 x 7.6 cm dcft \Ving);23.6 x 1+2 cm (central plaquc); 20.9 x 6.9 cm (right wing).
C,lhIU:1 dt'~ ~kd:.iJl{"!>. l~ibJiIHht;ql('





The siekbed of King Hezekiah, folio H6v of he Paris Psalter, mid-tenh century. Tempera and gold on parehmetlt, 20.3 x 18.1 cm.
Cabict des

of imperial sponsorship, then [he triptych in Paris is just such a creatian, most likely fram the reign of Romanos II (959-63).10 Besides a repository of ancient ideas, the Palace was evidently a storehouse of ancient artefacts, both Christian and secular. These trophies were braught out in their original state, as were the silver 'lordanes' plate, the 'Likinios' and other minsouria of the fourth to sixth centuries. i Near the sickbed of King Hezekiah in the mid-tenth-century Paris Psalter (fig.22) stands a chemiboxeston (washing set) with a ewer of fifth- or six[h-century type. More often, early materials were incorporated into new creations, as in the case of the already-mentioned chalice of Romanos, the gadraoned bowl of which is a sardonyx vessel of Late Antique, if not Classical, origin. New life was similarly given to the massive rack crystal known as the 'Gratta of the Virgin' which in Venice, if not earlier in Byzantium, was mounted on a base now understood to be a votive crawn ofLeo Vi (886-912; cat.064) and itselfan artefact in which the emperar is presented as isapostalos, the equal of the Apostles and Evangelists who surraund him. Between the ninth and the eleventh century the re-employment of ancient hardstones seems to have inspired Byzantine craftsmen to exploit newly mined ~aterials of this sart. Within this

Il.lion.ic Paris

Bil)tim!lequc dc France.


, ,1'1111<'1:111 ;111 ;''';tt' patt'n i P;lris.'C' illlO i, ,-, I ' I ii i' ,''I ,i LTIIIal 1'01In(lcl (kpilting he
11< '


in the ({'rl'i!', hook: hese sihTr during the same e\Tnt inlaid gold nosses, The in of of the trcasUl\' ancl other oHicials symbols \ITre thus elements a saned compac

erosses \('re a\l'arded lo as the prcket precious-metal aritual of-lcred to the emperor


SITe espeC'ially appropriate in "enice 'Takc.

lll' i i'''' l, i : harisic Imnion I;~l'1 "I,IIL,I,'r c:\aple i' 1'ipi,11"r"clhin. lj(' !l' l' 1\!il'l a hall~length

- ancl the lllllCh (caL80), at



in the

of gilt exchange.

cal. this is ny


hat cold stay the Hu:\ of loyaltes and all too the cra, in the politicil historyol'

I' "il ," i "ice LOthe liturgiC'al instruction .. I)11 IL r'pe,"" 1)\ ()rhoc!ox ancl other priess LO this

implicit in the acl\'ice of Kekaumenos aften manifest Readers




"n' ol'these


lItemils the Bool< ho\l', at laid of the

of the Book if Cmmoi!'.> might that \I'ihout pomp no ritual conrext

Fi;:!. :13

i"d 1\1,1111,111' coe from a churC'h or ciapel i !e (;1".11 P;1ace or from St Sophia:

IH'II come a\'a)' belie\'ing there \Vas no cireumstance, surrounding reasonably



i. ehapters


g) describes

and affecting an object that may be assumed to hm'e been associated it is this \'estiges of Byzanine

Pec,."" 1\\11l'ldie," e,~,


'111c! on other leasts, the emperor ancl t\l'O patens on the alta IS) ofcrowns,

",ith the palace. Yet in many instances difficult to identify sur\'i\'ig

(;r''11 (:Irh,

The same text tclls repeateclly chains, silver book the in from the to adam and enamelled churches

Cro" or le Emperor, Ron:no; II .ncl B",il [i. 9(io 03, Sillcr. 7+ x '-'.9 cm.

i. Ch;ptcr

art with activities of the court, first because that it mentiom; focus' on 'public' between imperia!

,lllkl;1l1 d, pt'arl-studdcd

text rare!y enters into detail about the objects and, second, ,e;iven its deliberate events in this setting, because to relationships tokens kinsmen and women, it

('{III'1's;iiici oher objects brought l1'cl,n aC neighbouring .lnlia";IlI'rs ;lll'ri,lls

\LI,!.!;llar;1 ;ci oher parts of the palac" when from ab road were received. objccts in rarc of olcl be to distort the picturc of their circulation, T" '\ r"s only unique

19nores those things that penain exchange d as markers the most important, flagranly withdrawn, One example littlc-known obverse,

of family solidarity sort of al!egiance.

and sometimes of such a 'personal'

the most gift is a

t,riftsolil-rl'cI in the palac" and to ignore the ,.ir,.msunces


]\Ilore habitual

lll' prest'ntation

of objects like the smail by


kept in the Church (fig.24). lts eedar


cr, '''c,s saicl in the Ceremonies book g, :22) to have been bestawed on a variety of dignitaries :\lothcr ofCod ofthc in the Pharos by

of St-Eloi at Eine in Flanders tips, represented describing a partide

i. hap('\', lj(' cnpT"r

bar" except for its gold and ename! of the T rue Cross; as an offering to This a in gold, bears an inscription of Eden'

Clurl "I'he

its reverse, sheathed

LI\('il-;1Slof St Elijah and other occasions. ,'-il presents are probably exemplified Oaks (fig.23). the the

this 'branch

the Virgin of '~Vlaria, bom in the purple'. princess \l'as a daughter and Empress lrene Doukaina,


,all ,iIHT cross at Dumbarton "i ll'lTSe, arond cmperor', These

of Alexios I Komnenos who presented the (now in Veniee)u

011 illl'

the bu st of Christ,

.Ppl'.I, ht' plca 'Lord he!p Romanos Onl"d,,'. \'in;i',

\'ery similar silver-gilt rcliquary to the Keeharitomene com'enr

while, on the reverse,

in Constantinople, cleath in

dicl i, inH)ked for 'Basil the Despot bom niclloed legends make clear \I'ere Romanos bet\l'een

to \rhich both mother

and daughter
i i

i i IIt, prpie',

retired after the emperor's Ostensibly rich), demrated tbeir donors,


l" rlns

in question

II and

de\'oid of politica] GontenL these relics proclaimed the piety of 'purplc-borri' e\'en \I'hile the epithet


Iis son and co-cmperor

dC'l,; \\'I<lt the inscriptions

do not tel! us is

;pplied to ~Iaria Komnene sen'C.d to ollset the fact that her father was a usurper. Clearly, Alexios I, noted for the distibution of partieles of the 'Holy Wood' to foreigners and to monasteries overseas,14 did not exelude members of his own elan. The Paris Psalter (cat. 60), an exceptionally large and lavishly decorated version of the book that served the Byzantines as a moral and literary primer, may fittingly conelude these remarks on art at court. Quite possibly prepared at the order of Constantine VII for the edification of his son Romanos, 5 the bodyol' the text is surrounded by an elaborate apparatus of patristic and other commentary. But it is the design and content of its fourteen full-page miniatures that best rehearse manyol' the themes outlined above. Even the omament in their frames, notably the 'virtual' cabochons that stud the images attached to the Odes of Moses (faL.149v) and Isaiah (fo1.435v),echo or anticipate the encrustation

of the precios-metal vessels and reliquarics that we have considered, while those of the opening David cyele (lois w--p) reflect motifs used in mosaic decoration and enamel inlays of the period. Best known for the personifications of Classical and Christian virtues celebrated in various Byzantine 'Mirrors of Princes' - figures like Ischys (power) in the scene of David's slaughter of the lion and bear, and Praotes

(mildness) who attends his anointment by Samuel - the images refer no less directly to rclics i preserved in the palace, as in the case of the rod ~ that Moses wields as he crosses the Red Sea, an object which was said to have been brought to Constantinople during the reign of Constantine the Great and which, together with the 'sceptres of the Romans' (manifest perhaps in the scene of David's coronation, faL.6v), according to the Ceremonies book (II, Chapter 15),was displayed to Arab emissaries visiting the court. "Vhether or not the final miniature of the ailing Hezekiah (fig.n), whose life is extended by God acting through the Prophet Isaiah, cannates the illness and absolutian of Constantine VII, to which there seems to be an allusion in the epigrams on ivories (cats 74, 75), there is little doubt that a number of objects depicted in the psalter allude to proud possessions of the Great Palace. Taday, there are many scholars who reject the picture of a society racked by conspiracy, usurpation and suspicion, attested by Kekaumenos and in the writings of Byzantine chronielers of life at court. These doubters may well turn for comfort to contemporary works of art, a bodyol' production from which such dysfunctional features are elided or combated with visual strategies darkly concealed within difficult, coded references.

Fig.24 Cross-reliquay, bcgil1l1ng of t\Vclftb


Cedar, gold, nicllo and cnan1cl, Lj..2 x 8 cm.

Icon of the Archangel Michael
Comtal1tinople, enanC, ,,"elflh century stones, Silver g-ilt on \Vaad, gald doisonne
prC(iOS cm

46 ..1 x 1) x 2.7



Faur Gaspds, falio Ig

Second 'luarter of he tweifth

Parchmen, 18.6 x 13.7cm. 1-325 folios

Constantinople, mid-tenh eeOl,

L\lanuscript on parchment,

37 x 265 cm



Lectionary with crucifo text, folia gy- Ig6r

Constantinople, twclfth century Parchment, 38.5 x 29 cm


, 1.

Paintrel anel gileleel glass bowl

ConstaIltinopie, rcllth century

Class, dark violct in eolour, gildcd and paincd, silvcr g-iltand glass
(';bochons. height 17 cm; cliamctcr

17 cm: lOal brcadth 33 cm



Fragment of the lower part of a elalmatic

Consantinople, c1eventh century
Figurcd sanie 4 lats, twill weave

lic i; ~ilk;white linen sewing hrcad, 51.3 x 107.5 cm

64 -.
The Virgin's Grotto
Constantinoplc- Vcnice: temple, fourth-fifth century (?); diadem, ninth-tenth century; statuene, thirteenth century Rock crystal, silver gilt, gold
clnisnne cnamel, precious stones,

pear1s, total height 20 cm; diadem dianeter 13 cm; height 3.5 cm

Byzantiun, tentl clc\'cth cclltllries, with latcr altcratol1s Bone on a wooelen core, \\"ith brass c1asps, 16.1 x 2+ x i:-).6 en

Constantinoplc, metal hardware,



Tvory and bone on wnel core,


x 40.5 x 16 cm

hox ii ith l'pl'1'ors riclig ;ncl iut111O" .-.,
r('ll . (.;n"cd
.1. (jr

{'It-. \ 'tll

i 1 et'!lll!]"\"
. . '-aid \"ny.

;ci ... .' Lncd


01'.,.'1 i'
.-.' (


nl ,ik, ltld,_ !i'r'

lll~. \\ ,..,l:-'.ll1d



I'orlt'l' ;j.1



q "n

h ,r\

iil C:ostatinc

\11 I'orpll\ mgcnnctas

,rO\\ (,11

wd 1)\'









\'atiH' plaquc "ith Clrst blessing Empt'ror Oa il (067 - 83) and Emprcss Thcoplano \982 83)
Ir.HT;" n'

rrd po~t'hrtJny.

n.,i x o.t) rm

( :i,11'i,ldIIIHI11!t'.


\ \ ( 'I

- ; 1 ;:;: II


1 11

ci ~) [ '1
X '2 ('lll




i (L

Ikli. , ".-,"li

". Il1ld.\!ll" Il Ii;"



Icon with Virg and Child

Sccond half of temh cemu)'
InH;:. 22.~ x q.:2 x 1.1cm



1vory panel with the Theotokos Hodegetria

Comtaminople, tenth century ,,"oy, '25-7 x '3.3 x 1.4 cm

-;1 )


. il ( l ,
i i 'i

1'.11 LLL ,kr.

Ivory panel \Iith ss_ Andrew and Peter
(;Olhl.tIltiIl)pi<:. CTIlury CIl' 1(1)1).'"
:2+6 ;.<


h-ory panel witl Stjoln the Theologian anel St Paul

(;f .... Llllillnl}k. n'ntury




h"o ~. l+~J x 1:1.-!- ('!LL

-.". J.'

.,. ,(", L. ;'",I,

i ~ ''
i. ,,]. .

1'." 'I' il


... 1", , "


!' ... ,i' . ,


'IL.-. 1 '1.1L



d \ "

.'"1 .

i.' l.;'~',., i. \1" . '\


Triptych with Deisis and Saints
ConstanLoopie, c. 000

h-ory with traces or gilt,


x 33 x 2.9 cm (opeo)

/ i

111,1 i


i Jd\'i1Ic' tript\"ch

I), j,i, ;lIlcl saints

l l"tiJH . i tle




hory triptych with Crucifixion and saints (The Borradaile Triptych)
Coswntinoplc, In)};'. panel;

Icon with the Koimesis

Cnnstaninop!e. second half of he enh cenry Slcattc, panially gilt. '3 x 11.2 x 1.7 rm

tenth century

x 15.7 cm (central

7.8 cn lIeft \,-in?;); 8.5 enl


,\Ja!Ja,n jl<lI< witl Cli,!


Chalicc ol' the Pararchs

Co .... aioplc. Il'mb or


(';rly c!'\"('h S;rdoyx ('up:


"ikcr~!.!,"il. pt'arb. :d rock cry.\I;1 '27<) x g



\l.I, .,,(!.] .... ih




g-nld doi",OIlJl4:' e!l.l'!.

plTCio c.1)(Jt.'lol,

;.)( .III"'.II'II""'lt'l,'I,;lH'!.



I:t<, It'IHh

L';:rl~ d'\"l'llll


7'iklT /lll

"jth pcarb cm


1']Oi"OllIH' (,Ilamd".

pr{'("iClu ..... 11nl .. :":~L)( ..:o

At Church

HE CHRISTIAN FA ITH was at the centre of Byzantine life. Across the

monastic use; others were fumled by groups of individuals, sametimes villagers. Very many were monasteries. Although large-scale and impressivc churches were built throughout most of the Byzantine period, many were small struetures, intimate and confined. Inside the church, architecture, decoration and sacred objects came together in a cclebration. of the divine. Art historians often talk of the 'decorative scheme' of Byzantine churches. Church art, however, was considerably more than decorative. Because the ClLlrchwas regarded as heaven on earth, each part of the church, its decoration and fixtures and fittings, refiected its part in this role, as well as their own specific function. As a result, the architecture of a Byzantine church was both utilitarian, relating to the forms of worship that took place within it, and symbolic, carrying a deeper spiritual meaning.4 Unlike a v'"estern medieval church, where the worshipper is directed in a linear fashion, west to east, the Byzantine church is centralised. By perhaps the tenth century, the most comman plan of a Byzantine church was the cross-in-square church with a central dome (figs 32, 33). The most popular version of this plan placed the dome on four columns within a square, but variations on the theme were multiple. The congregation tended to enter the nave, or naos, via aporch, called a narthex, at the west end of the church. The naos itself was square or rectangular in plan, but often divided by columns and piers. It was roofed by adome, and the effect of that was to create a centralised, focused space, a vertical axis rather than a horizontal one. This was the space for the congregation, men on the right and women on the left. At the east end of the church, the sanctuary was clivided into three, a central area where the altar was located, fianked by two smailer side areas, one to the north, where

empire, Orthocloxy unitecl people otherwise unconnectecl by language, ethnicity or culture. It was a sharecl iclentity: an Orthoclox believer from Constantinople coulcl enter an Orthoclox church in Kiev or Alexanclria or Sicily and immecliately feel at home; a mosque or a \Vestern church were both equally alien. As Gregory i\Ielissenos, the confessor to Emperor John VIII Palaiologos, put it: 'When i enter a Latin church, i Canot revere any of the saints who are there because i Canot recognise them.'z Everyone was involvecl in religion in same way, whether as Orthoclox, heretic or unbeliever. Religious disputes over the right ways to conceive of ancl worship Gocl, Christ, the Mother of Gocl ancl the saints punctuate Byzantine history, provicling a constant narrative of Orthodox belief versus heretical challenge. The winners \Voulclalways take the title Orthoclox ancl brand their opponents as heretics. The feasts and saints' days of the Christian calendar marked out the rhythms of claily life; images of the divine were everywhere in daily life, from stamps of the Cross on loaves of bre ad to the Mother of Gad on coins. As a result, church was the most important building in the life of any Byzantine, the place where the rituals of faith were conducted, and the setting for humanity's communion with the divine, God's dwelling place on earth.3 That churches mattered more than any other type of building is apparent from the number that still exist, the quantity of sUrvving ecclesiastical objects and the sheer mass of textual references. Anyone who could afford it could buiCa church - and a surprising number clici,for such buildings were both a sign of one's devatian to Gad and a perpetual prayer for salvation. Churches coulcl be very personal foundations: many were built by individual patrons for their own family or personal

I""'pinl "i

illlcil!H' pite'lI illlci thl' ,ouh



look plilT al t!ll' do"rs or tlH' rl'krs


il'lInuslasis b the liturg:' (the tnn am' rl'gu!ar ehureh dranilll'

'. '1'111' ,i\lletuan

as ii !lc

to hl' EUl'harisl, bu i he USl'd hl're Ic)r sen'ilTi 'as hu!t annnci or thl' C1l'rg:' [i'on the ippearanl'l'S

Iklcn Iwhic! thl' l'fostasi.'



ac! rl'snlTd ahOlT a


s<lnl'lU,ll'l' at kcl' points in the sen'ict' ,l, minia!


c!isp!aI'ng hl' Gospl'1s <nci he saeranl'nts. In sl'mbolie terms. the pans or the chrch a spritua! has traclitiona)' These IIlTe clil'icled hoth l'('rtcay anclhorizonay ancl e:cl part coulcl be gin'n meaning. Vertica)', enphasis bin on the inages ilthin hal'C long been understaacl

ciil'inl' speetack.

Here an the church the

>Ilhinl'd hl'autiflh-, he lToss-in-square


'lll' Il's.'icrac (nhes urgla.'iSI ",il'. On c10se inspectio, St Andre' (fig':3+) shlll's ho' an

the ehurch.


as l\'Orking in three the Mother of

, ..,insertecl ic!\'icllay inlO , '~,(md on site to construct

, il
'1"1 Ll ,ii i

registers. At the highest Ic\'cls, the cupolas and apses are Cecoraled Il'ith Christ, Gocl ancl ange!s. Bela\\' are scenes from the life of Christ, o[(en Cidieel a 'festil'a! cycle' because they hal'e been see n ;s scenes representing T\I'eh'e Great feasts of the Orthodox Finay, the lowest [eye! is made up of saints, LsuaHy shown as single standing figures. heave
Fi~:-, 3~ 33 ["terior ,clpbn

his created

an othenvor1c11y Paint vas

ing, reftcctedlight.

l il iill

i lt"

hing to mosaic work, and the effeet

LLL '1


"i ,i'

!'hurch was LOcreate a LOtay clarkcl' andmore intense. space to the




tl disphy,

;iiation of l1aos as 'centralised as:1I1 area set apart rdated religios sen'ices. their activities. andthe couk! listen to the

i \

Tn this way, the top levcl represents occupieel by Christ whose presence, not visib!e to worshippers to look right up, nevertheless

ontine "I"l I'li"'i'.


On thc Certain

and, indeeel, the central dome is most of ten though un!ess they chose hung over them

or til('



,ngregation "Jt observe l~ihJe readings

century mona ... trry

clurcl of Ho,i",


Di~tomo. in Boeotia

beyand their sight. Rather, they macle Christ's life present ancl visible as an eternal witness to Christian truths and a reassurance to believers. Finay, the saints, both on the walls and as ico,. on the lowest level, closest to the worshippers, physicay surrounded the \iewers in the naos. They gazed out at worshippers, seeming to meet their eyes, acting as the first focus for worshippers on entering the church, as Cathe icons ofTheodore Tiro and Stlames. The worshipper's first act was to make a circuit of these images, often the special saints of each church, displayed on stands (known as pros/ynetaria), venerating the m through kissing them, lighting cancUes in front of them and touching them.6 This corporeal contact with tl . saints enabled the faithful to share their power, as the likenesses were not understoocl by the Byzantines simply as pictures but as images which contained the authority of the divine figure. At the start of the liturgy, congregarian and icons alike were censed and, in this way, both became equal participants and equal presences in the liturgy, forming a part of the communion of saints. Russian envoys to St Sophia in the tenth century were convinced that the angels descended from the mosaics to join in the celebration.7 So images within the church
The nterior of the monastcry church of Hasos Loukas

throughout their time in the builcling. In the apse, the Mother of Gad, bearing the Child, served to illusrate the Incarnation, proving that Gad became Man, was bom of a Virgin and saved humankind. Below this, the scenes from the life of Christ could be understood in several ways. A comman view is that they acted as books for the illiterate, a teaching tool for those who came to worship but who could not read. This is a convenient interpretation of the meaning of pictures in churches but it does not always match the reality, which is that such scenes were often uncomfortably high above worshippers and even

drew the spectator into contemplation of the divine events and, beyand that, into participano in divine worship.8 Icons filled churches. Over time the interior of the Byzantine church went through a series of significant changes, stimulated by the desire to increase the sanctity of the altar and to emphasise the power of icons. In the Early Byzantine church the laity could visually participate in all the stages of the liturgy performed by the priests behind a law chancel barrier between the nave and the altar. But this graclually changcd, and in the sixth century the Church of St Sophia at Constantinople was

elihalil tL ,'~, , , , ii 'i 11('11.n Iront ot tle altar. i hs type Il'p Io, . (LI' ,cT"1I \\ ,I' ii )ucl III oher dlllrdes belre

" i \\ il


, Iider screen, tle so-callcd

ineli\'ielual nature iportant

anel role or he ehurcl


in picking the saints. !ekeel, it is liTre persoalisee! through he

possible that ehurehes

'11'111 ,.

11I11 i rapie!ly beeame


the norm afi:er

their choice of saint: the ie!i\'ielual patrolis, l\'lx of monk. the type of ehureh been signifieant

'11'111 n 'Iltil" :;kriptlll i

I n'lll

11,11,1hin marblc as in the church at , ::j jl j+ cas 183, 18+1. By he t\H'lfth

nust all h<l\T

faetors in the ehoiees of sail!'. eelCbrated \ith

Q)I' ,

, iiLi, ii

'1 l(olJ.' IltTe laid O\Tr the top of the 11 .' lik' ile !ean on :'Tount .\thos \I'ith

Sueh \as the settig for the liturgy. \I'hicl lI'as itself a performanee appropriatc ehureh the norning trappings \Ithin the space of tle took place early n liTre oen and

or i i it' Il.i chureh

;i!ti tlj('

festi\'als, ., the Raising- of as in eat.216), ieons or part of

..ll.arl' Iklt"'ll Cr;i'

le Transfiguration, 'olunns

(fig.35). i\fany seniees

of the templon,

or at dusk, and churehes and church doeuments)


graclually inserted.

As a result of

small and re/atiH ly dark, As a result, ligh ting was of great importance, typika (foundation Candles glitering chanddiers, that liturgical key liturgical inventories rcgularly eliscms

1H"t' ,lrti('IIIl(".

he priest now performed

hl' liurg, Iwhind an opaque

screen, enhancing into

lr ik; ,l' le ill\'isible holy of holies in the drTI ,Illll .llming him to make entrances le clurcl

the Iighting devices in their particular artificial light; they might be suspendeel candelabra (ca ts 170, 171) and or plaeed in candlesticks.

building. in

and oil lamps (cats 218, 21g) provieled

e!r;m1atic moments

in the liturgy.

The ed'('\' to separate dncloplIlen!

laity from priesthood a screen the

rl'acled i>; llIlal stage with the thirteenth-century of the high ieonostasis, ('()\I'ITd \\ ih ieons which totally concealed altar ul'" he central ih a .\llLll1eiation, The i('oo'asis

The importance

of the liturgy meant materials. The

vesse/s and books were valued vessels were the chalice, paten and the associated vessels the

doors (usually decorated as cat.281) were opened. a whole range of icons the Deisis, the patronal and might

highly and made of preeious


(ca ts 20, 80) anel asterisk (for the Eucharistic wine and bread), for the preparation flabellum, church. employed

IiI'1(,IHTaiol1, including sai ol' he ehurch,

the major festivals of the

of the Communion,

drcl. ae! other saints and prophets, !l' SlmHlllltee! with a crtlcifixion. LIl'I church dilTrsc eollcetion appears

or fan, the censer used throughout altar and crosses (cats go, g) were of the dergy Altar tables

the service to' cense congregation, Processional may appear and

to have had its own

of saints. Asaint

in the entry processions

;!lllos a\ where on the walls of a church, a rage of clates in the liturgieal .\Ihough i has been suggested 'Jr.gaiSl'd by ran k, function cakci;r of the Church, calendar.9

and went before the Gospe/-book. too could be precious \Yere all co\'ered themselves

!l' grolljlee! lI'ith a variety of other saints from

and lavishly decorated.

They, the bread and wine, the chalice and patl'n vith appropriate textiles. often for each strip silks heavily embroidered had vestnents in golel. The priests appropriate

that saints are

and plaee in the eertainly Apostles, martyrs, bishops,

this is not the case.

Thogh saints \Iithin the Church Irn ddiee! groups - prophets, sucl

service. The epitrachelion was an embroidereel of doth worn arounel the neck that all priests were obliged to wear when approaching sanctuary, embroielered the

"l .\ne!re\',


1I;lrrioJ. s.illts, hretler saints - the apparently arbi 1';1 1'\ nalure of the ciaice of ineli\'ielual ,aints suggests that the il'Jl'I!',1"l lI'ihin each church

wlile the eJ}(gonntio was a stiff goldpiece of dorl that hung from the

girelle to the knee,

Books were especiay holy because they contained the word of Gad. Consequently, they were often lavishly deeorated and sumptuously bound, sho~ving proper respect to Gad. The liturgy is an e1aborate interweaving of texts from psalms, both read and sung, of passage s from the Gospels and Epistles or Prophets, of a large number of prayers, same chanted, of short readings about the saints whose day it is, and of hymns. All of these needed books. Liturgical texts were not assembled into one book but in fact spread across several volumes. The prayers said by the priest in Iiturgy were uniquely written on a long scroll rolled to the eorreet place and held up by the deacan for the priest. These serolls tended not to be heavily illuminated: the Patmos liturgieal roll has an elaborate frontispieee

showing St Basil the Great celebrating the liturgy inside an claborate marble building, but the re,t of its iustrations are initials, botl religious and secular. Gospel texts were arranged in a lectioary, where they \,ere divided into sets of lessons ananged according to the day of the year on whieh passage was to be read. The Gospel-book (eat. 205) playcd an active part in the liturgy, for it was earried out into ehurch from the prothesis, and taken though the sanctuary doors into the bema, or sanctuary, where it was placed on the altar. This aetion symbolised. among other things, the entry of the Word of Gad into the world. As a result, Gospel-books frequently had impressive cavers and less attention might be paid to their internal L deeoration. Indeed, there is a ease for suggesting that same of the most elaborately deeorated Gospel-books in Byzantium were never aetually used but may have simply sat on the altar as representations of Christ's inearnate wisdom, just as the bread and wine of the Eueharist were his body and bload. However, hundrecls of illustrated Gospel-books survive, showing a variety of ways of iustrating the narrative. Same use frontispieees with Gospel seenes, same have narrative stips between bloeks of text; most have Evangelist portraits. Leetionaries (eats 61, 304) eontained liturgical readings drawn from the Bible for the Eueharist, and from saints' lives, the Church Fathers and the Couneils of the Chureh for other serces. The psalter was perhaps the most important book in Byzantine daily life, to the extent that children leamed to read and write from it or even, as in the psalter here, Westem adults might leam Greek from it (eat. 177). In ehureh, psalms were sung throughout the Iiturgy. In parish ehurches, they were seleeted for relevanee to that day's feast; in monasteries, they were sung in biblical order over the eourse of the serviees. Bothmonks and lay singers must have

Fig35 The inerior of St Caherine', on ;\OlountSinai, with

a service in progress




1)\, he~lr(





Prplc staii,~ or pages or llot onl\' a llCrl'aSl' i prilT oll il11pl'rial stats. prplc eolom resel'\Td for the

IJlII'1 ,,Jle cll,~regatiu,

,\ kast 8:) \I'ays, they meclitations

buoks rl'presl'llted bllt abo a coment being the impcrial speeialised,

IIJlil.1I psalers slIlYin' aC 110 t\1'() are . ,;', i 1I11straecl in \'arious k' 1lllllwr"lIS inevretaions, li ('lll1ll'ltaries "pi,' .\' i \dieh

e111peror. .\licro-1110saie ieons \ITH' a highly partindarly eostly Itrn or 111osaic: to \lork on he b'c1 and detail or skill needed indi\'idalh' in position,

on the psalns, SuvrisinglY, the psal111s \ITre used in to reHect heir biblical oder. or the psalns, one and each are

r~'\, IIli, n;;, are neyer rearrang-ed Ii, b .d~\,; nainain

this seale sing mime esserae, ca ch plael'd surely \lith t\\TeZerS,

I l'lp ks in the recitation ),.dn' i,,' p,;d :11' 1",\(1' ,,,'re organised Ahi,lill, '.ri/hi, ii ,'a h containing
ih, ;1'

is simply sraggcring. deeorated

Ol~jcets 111ight be hrther materials, and scenes (cats 199, 2-1-,)) or

into t\\'eny sections or bet\lTen

\I'irh e\'Cn nore precious \I'ith omament

inlaid in ename! perhaps gilded, and deeorared appropriate Supper mattcred. [nction: LlSed for Eucharistic is depicred

To aid 111enor)' eve n further, subdiyided into three, There

to their lise, as with the Riha Paten bread, where the Last (cat. 20). And size always to be

()Id Testament however.

books than New, in is one of the most copies

,;r 1t'lIn llI1~ their lesser place in the liturgy. 11](' B""k ,)[Job, pp!;r, .cl O\Tr twelye iustrated 'lIl'\l\T, The 111llreh was alsa a place where people IJli!.(lll11I;lkeindividual offerings, Same took the the Mother
ii rn ol' \Oiye gifts left for Christ,

it related not only to cost, but alsa to sm all books were often intended

read in private. 'Vithin including materials, translating heaven, the ehurch, architecture, imagery, 'the liturgy, as well as sights, sounds and smells, voices, incense, a combined smakl' and candle-wax. floors, gli ttering to create the effect of into a sphere beyand the church into heat and bodies, hard, polished the worshipper

l'<;ocl "i he saints in prayer

or in thanks for

Iwdi, received (cat. 198), Relics of saints were pl'('('io'. ofIering the faithful a direct contact

ih 1J(' ;nual,


hal)', and every altar splinter of wood from as befitted to

the worldly, and to transiate to being 'with Gad'.



a relic. Such remains

in order to move being 'at church'

(')Itici \ .LI'\'li'om a minute ih,.tll"

le Trc Cross (ca ts 182, 188), encased l(' hol' hcad or a hand of asaim. ')('cial r 'lies alsa actcd as magnets

or a morsel of bone from asaint Such

for pilgrims

he \rch. Tllf' materials used to ereatc to the patrons the images and the \I'as a


"Iied'> at church

reHected both the for it was thc patrons'

IT'IJlll'(TS a\'ailable

iplrl.llJlT of rcligion,

cl\ I c;i\'t, of the ir be,t to Gad. There Iin.r( 11\ (J[ matcrials: ,il\tT, 1)11)llze, bras;" copper; (;qld, 1"1' example,

mosaic and paint; gold, and material;, mcaniw.b and so

Ihcl11"I\"s nioht car'".',/a svmbolic " did not tari,h


li)t1ncl'1lI1 Cl'llIl1r~

(:~st ('oppcr alloy. diaH'lcl"

I.:lll: 1'+6.)

Il'i!.dlt ,,"ithout


i i
CIlJlJll'] -,

l i Il\






"'lI~p('J,ill1 '2g ("LLL

l' di,k



Clurch bcll
Serbia, '1 \lgUst I+12 CaQ brozt', hcight 7'2 cm; c1ianccT 55 rm

173 .,.

.-\ug" Lt:;:!

Ca~( brol1z(', :>[J x -lj rn

17 t


Copper al10y plaque "ith the H odcgt.:tria and saints




fTlllr~ It.E: ('])1

('Op! cr :1!()) , ~J'.-J y

175 .Homilies on the Virgin ~lary by James Kokkinobaphos, folio 3V

Constanil1ople, he !\,dfih lirs half of eenturv

~ ranuscript on parchment, 23 x t6.5 cm

176 --.
Perfume brazier in the form of a domed building
Constantinoplc Silwl', partiay or Italy, gilded, embossed end of the twelfth century and perforatcd, 36 x 30 cm



Psalter with the veneration of an icon of the Virgin Mary Hodegetria,

arounC 1300

folio 391' +or

and C:ypnlS,


anel golel on parchment. bilingal Psalter

Latin and Gn'ek x

and other tcxts of \'ario~ dates, 29



g .Tray -ith repl'l'seation \postlcs


or the.

Peter anel

Paul anking- across


(:Ia;. :r/.~)

:Jtl.n ,'lll: \\ilth ol'

rr.lllW +.-i. cm



Gilt-coppcr plaqut' "ith St Theoelore

Byz.ll11in 'C()Il"utiI10plC~)I. nid-dcn'l1rh Gilt (oppcr,
i L 1.

(cnnr;; 12.:)

6.7 cm
;1 \h. 11.1.-, 1-111.1



P~". !i ;-



Textile hanging with St Makarios and waman in prayer

E;.iYVl,lourtl ')r tiftl CCl1lury Lint'Jl and \\"001, IO~) :. Sb Ctn

Rcliquary sarcophagus
Byzantiul11, fiflh-sevenh century ~ larble a~gloncratc, 27 x 51 x '15-:') cm

Reliquary crucifix
Constantinople, lirst half of the tenth century, :\[onastery of St !I!ichael, Damokraneia (now Gzelce) Parially gilded silver crucifix holder, 36.4 x 237 cm

(The ertlcifix [above] and the sarcophag.s Dcft] are for illustrative purposes only and are not exhibited)


Epistyle from the Church of the Koimesis at Skripou

~Iade on site, at Skripou, 873/7-t ]\Iarble, 18.5 x 333 x 33.5 cm



Closure panel with two peacocks

Thebes, twclfth century Marble, 57 x 60 x 9.5 cm

185 .Double-sided pand dosure

Thrb("s, nintl ct'nll1ry ilbrblc, 88.3 x 10:;.8 x



Double-sided panel


Thebes 872/73 illarblc, 97.5 x 73.8 x 9.5 cn


Silver chalice
Syria, Early Byzantine,
sxth century Sih-er ,,ith nicllo and gilding,

18 x 26.6 x 16 cm



189 .(:llll"(i1lllirnplt'.

lir.. I,lr l'


Cl'Jl!ll1Y !.1l1l11ll'rn!.

Ca ... ! {'opper :1ly.

l'1l!.~,T;nd <llld

j>11I1dHd. :11)


o.:i clll

prnl>:,lk Bronz"


Processianal cross
HyZ<1I11 ilim.




Cia x


x 'l.h cm

R'liq!. arthe
'I'rtll (



, :.11

l tl



l,i\"fT p.~;l,

gilt support. ~+x i /.7 x 1..') cm

Processonal cross
Constantinople or north-western .\naolia. Iate ele\'enth or early twcmh century Silver, silver gilt, niello, iron core and bronze shart, 73 x 39 cm

The Cross of Adrianople
L'lle tenth century Silver sheets, ",ith engraving, partial gilding and niello decoration. ri\'eted around an
ran core. 58.5 x 31 x 0-4 cm

19<> ,) (' CJ 1(1 (

1\1(' i"




'(i i i serpton
\1 'lII14'ITalca. ,
-llllIY. '..... i) . .

.."":!'' <',II

"Il' (




( i' i' . .. lJ'pl'li"llll LLL: "\1

p 7.1



p. g
i: .\ i ,,' : \~. '1', I"


re I, quary cross

~, t.'
~ i



Votive hand holding across

Syia-Palestine, sixthcighth ccntury
Bronzc, 2+ x 10 cm; crass,



, J 1\1\\\ . ,"","1".


13 x




.IUI. :\

. \\'il" .t
I,j .,1
\1)' \

\i .



Pectoral reliquary cross

Constantinople !Jr Anatolia, eleventh ccntury Coppcr aoy, 7"3 x +3 cm

Pectoral reliquary cross

Constantinople or Anatolia, clevcnth century Coppcr alloy, 8 x 4-5 cm

Pectoral reliquary cross

Constantinople or Anatolia, !ate lenth or elevenh century Copper aoy, 9,5 x 5,5 cm

199 --.
Pectoral cross with Four Evangelists
Constantinople (Oh second half of the elcventh century Gold, fligrce, cloisonne and chample\'c enane, emerads,
tourmaline, pearls, 9 x 6 x



, il




.1. i j. -~ r



." {'lll



~ Ii

Camea with Christ Pantokratar
Consaninoplc, century early thirteenh <'amca); Serbia. Pf'C

Pendant with Christ Pantokratar Constantinople e). e1eventh

or t",elfih century in a
sxccnth-cenwry mount

or Prizrcn. early snoemecnh

cenury (selting)
.Jasper green. ctltting; sih'er,

ham mc ring gilding; enamC Iblue and green); canelian, moher-o~ pear, glass pase. eameo length + cm; ",idth 3-5 cm: selting kngh 7.2 cm; width 6 cm

Rock ervsal, gold. preeious stones, pearls (mount), 6.1 x 6 x 1.2 cm linduding mounl)



I,lio 7:ii
( ,I



~" li\','

)r~.l: J.i 'i

- ' ' .: ~... ,..,.,2f"" ~f'~"'.,.

r,)',l cm.

i- ' ,

.. ,

-' "

!'.n !w

;< '. -> -<

Ll'niolld 1\


lr L, :-upper,
.\ii' ll'.
()i 'illI ,~i' J!


LI'. \.r"ia


I',n h']]'





L ~'i )~ll\t\\;n
iU, (;

HI< )fJ(~H
, ~




. ..7.\

l\rl;L(~1 fC-'fd"l ,

'.~,~T\. )lIt )11 V"

'r(l'fI \\1 l \ (';1\.\ + /' J ~ L\, PC~ \. H) 'r iL\

'I'lt 't' i: iiP(;! r~ T\

{ -; (\ ' J \ ) \ '.

pt ~'1,,\'
i ~~\

\.< ~ i ll!
~ (

'I'.\'\t.\\tl 'ht;r!.\\,



'r< )lil
j \

i),,. \i

. ~

\l ;111.\ ( ;



'I' ~ ,\+,\.\ i


"Lll f




Icon \I'th the .\nnunciaton anel sants

Lalt' r,,"CHih century
(;il-~ikt'r :"Ihret. cl1;I;o.,cci rcpo. .... "{. :11 x '17 rn

27 --.
Hanelle of a stanelng censer (kado)


Bronze. east \\ ith cngran:d

dcwii. :28.6 x

:21 cm

A ... ia 1\linar, follrt('c~nth ('('otury

Bronzc. gilrlcr!. h;mmerecl ;nd

(llgrJ.wci, siher, LO x


Plaque wth St Nketas
Tlirteenth c(,nury Bronze, hammercd, gilr!ccl, inci,cr!, 7.3 x 6.+ cm

Chalice veil
.Late hirteel1lh-early rourteenth

2II Gaspels with the Passian af Christ, flia 92r

Constantinopic, second hall' or de\enth ccntury Parelme, 3 x 13.2 cm

Silk embroidered ",ith ,iker and gilded sih-cr thread, 63.5 x 63.5 cm

Epitaphios of :\'icholas Euclaimonoioanncs

Co:-'{~lI1tin()pk. 'l'h('~sa()l1iki or he Pcloponncst'. 1{06/07 Crimson :-.ilk \\ith ~ikcr. ,ilnT-gilt. and (olonred tlreacb. 8j x '+u cn

\Va tilc with an image of St Nicholas
Probably C:onstamioplc.

century and tran:-.parCl1l giaze:-)

1f) . ...J. CIll


\vhic c('ramir, G.8 x


\ Vali rile \yith an image of St Arerhas

PrlJl:l)iy Co'>laliIHll)ll',
ll'l1tl (T1Hry



Ir.Ubpdl'l'llt 17.2




x 17.1 cm

The Raising qfLazarus
Twelfth century Egg tempcra on \Vood. 21.3 x 24 cm

Epistyle fragnent with the Transfiguration of Christ

~Iount Athos, first half of the welfth century Chcsnut wood, gesso and tempera. 23.2 x 23.7 x 2.3 cm


f(Jlrteclh century

Incense burner
Serhia.Janjc\'o. Bronzc, ca:-.ting, opcnwork,

Raundel with the Alather of Gad

IUi8-81 (?i, Constaninople SC'lJentine. diamcter 17.5cm

x 12_.1 x 3.05 cm

Lstern ~lcditerrancan


fiflh-sixh ccntury
Brass, '2.7x 7.9 cm



Egypt, sixh ccntury

QlIaemary covered allay, east in parts, with grecn paria,

32.1 x 25.5 x 19.3 cm


Brass lamp with griffin's he ad hanelle

haly (?), fifth-sixth ccntury AD Brass, height 15.9 cm; width 7.2 cm; Icngth 21.3 cm

.01" (

l I'ad

:1 III