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Medieval Russian Icons By Lady Sofya la Rus - Heraldshill, Calontir Mka Lisa M Kies Mason City, Iowa December

r 2007 Slavic University of the Midrealm Historical Context The Orthodox church has been a major influence on Russia The conversion of Rus' coincided with the peak of the Byzantine development of icons. Icons have been an important part of Russian churches and homes ever since. Schools of Russian Icons Introduced by Byzantium, but adapted by the Rus Three Russian schools developed even before the Mongols. Kievan closest to the Byzantine tradition rich and majestic. Novgorod brighter colors and more natural forms. Vladimir-Suzdal intermediate. Other centers also developed over time Moscow, Tver, etc. Function of Icons Instructional tools Devotional aids Collective/civic identity NOT objects of worship, but rather windows on heaven Detail, beauty and symbolism assist in the meditation of the Divine Mysteries they represent Found in churches, of course (eg. St. Sophia in Kiev) But not just in churches: The beautiful corner of every Orthodox home/room Great Flag of army of Ivan the Terrible (shows the Apocalypse) 13th Century Helm (of Iaroslav Vsevolodovich?) with Great Archangel Michael, help your servant Feodor and a metal plate on top with Christ, and Saints George, Vasiliy, and Feodor, Clothing and jewelry The Iconostasis The wall of icons in the front of a church. Between the sanctuary where the Eucharist is celebrated and the nave where the congregation stands. The sanctuary symbolizes the spiritual and the Divine The nave represents the physical and the human, so The iconostasis shows how they can be reconciled thru the windows of the icons.

The columns of the iconostasis represent the firmament/sky dividing the spiritual from the sensory, The horizontal beams represent the union between the heavenly and the earthly through the love of God. Development of the Iconostasis The early forms varied from a solid chest high wall to a high latticework with a curtain opened during certain parts of the services. Later a triptych was added above the wall, Christ flanked by the Virgin and John the Baptist. This was the form that came to Russia. There it developed until the 16th century through the addition of tiers until it reached its present five-tiered form. The Worship Tier The feast day icon/s are there for worship and are more accessible to worshippers for veneration: kissing, candle-burning, and meditation. More varied and local in character than the other tiers. Usually an icon of the Virgin and Child and one of Christ flank the Royal Door. The Royal Doors The North Door leads to the sacrificial table, the Royal Door leads to the Sanctuary, and the South Door leads to the deaconry. Represents the entrance to the Jewish Holy of Holies and to the Kingdom of Heaven So the announcers of the kingdom are usually depicted: the four Evangelists and the Annunciation. North and South Doors depict two archangels or sainted deacons as servants of the Mystery. Access thru these doors is restricted. The Savior made without hands King Abgar of Edessa had a portrait painted from a piece of linen on which Christ had pressed His face. Exemplifies the dogmatic principle of iconography not arbitrary creations but obey divine inspiration. The letters on the halo are the Divine name revealed to Moses - "I am". Boris and Gleb Early Kievan princes (sons of Vladimir I who converted Rus) killed by their older brother in a struggle for the succession. The humility and faith they showed in facing their killers, led to their veneration. They were the first Rus canonized. Their old Russian names thereby became Christian names. (Most people dont know their Christian names were Roman and David.)

Elijah Being Taken up into Heaven More common in Russia than elsewhere. The Prophet Elijah is associated with the Slavic god of thunder and fire, Perun Elijah is taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot, while his disciple, Elisha, tries to keep him on earth. The angel at the bottom is waking Elijah for his journey. The Deisis/Deesis Tier Grew out of the original triptych of Christ, the Virgin and John the Baptist. Deisis means "prayer" and, accordingly, the saints are shown standing in prayer before Christ. The most important part of the iconostasis - represents the goal of every church service - prayerful standing before the throne of God. This tier is represented in the embroidery of Mikhail Romanovs Coronation Collar Christ Enthroned Christ is usually depicted in the form of the icon called Christ Pantocrator. He is enthroned as the Creator and Redeemer ruling over the world. He is in a circle, a mandorla, representing His divine glory and two squares forming an eight-pointed star that symbolizes the "eighth day" - the future life. The Church Feasts Tier Show the primary church Holy Days events of the New Testament Church and the lives of Christ and the Virgin. They represent "the principal stages of Divine Providence in the world" and the fulfillment of what was foretold by the tiers above them (see below). The Birth of the Virgin Her parents are Joachim and Anna and the ending of their long sterility is a prefiguration of the Resurrection. In addition, St. Anna's release from barreness to bear the Mother of God symbolizes the freeing of human nature from the sterility of sin to bear the fruits of grace. The Presentation of the Virgin Depicts the Virgin consecrating herself to the service of God. She is welcomed by priest Zacharias who was to be father of John the Baptist. He allowed her in the Holy of Holies, violating Jewish law, because she was the new Ark, the "living Ark" of the new covenant. The Nativity of Christ The cave represents the sinful world into which Christ, "the Sun of truth," appeared. In addition, the cave and swaddling clothes prefigure His tomb and burial clothes.

The ox and ass represent the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, "The ox knows its owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel does not know Me, and the people has not regarded Me." Mary is shown as the new Eve, the Mother of renewed mankind. When she is half-sitting, it shows the absence of the usual travails of childbirth and thereby the Divinity of Christ. More commonly, she is shown lying down as if tired, indicating Christ's human nature. Joseph is off to one side to emphasize his non-paternity, and is being tempted by the devil to doubt the Virgin birth. The shepherds represent simple, uneducated people, with whom God can communicate directly. The wise men represent educated people who can only come to know the divine truth indirectly through their studies. In addition, the shepherds represent the Jewish church, while the wise men represent the Gentile church. The Baptism of Christ Another depiction of the Holy Trinity: God the Father spoke, God the Holy Spirit descended as a dove and God the Son was immersed, establishing the sacrament of Baptism. The Holy Spirit as a dove recalls Noahs flood when a dove was used to see if the earth was ready for new life. Baptism symbolizes death, burial and rebirth and so the cave in the icon foreshadows Christ's tomb.. The Annunciation The Archangel often carries a staff symbolizing his role as a messenger. Mary in sometimes stands in attention to God's command, while in others she is shown seated to show her superiority over the angel. Her head is bowed in consent and submission. The Divine Incarnation could not result from God's will alone, but also required the free will and faith of the Virgin. The Spice-bearing Women at the Tomb One of two Easter Icons used. (The other is the Anastasis or Descent into Hell.) Since the Gospels are silent about the actual moment of Resurrection, neither Easter Icon depicts it. This icon depicts what was seen by those who came to the tomb after the Resurrection. The Descent into Hell/Limbo Christ is in white to show divinity. The aureole (elongated halo) around Him also shows this. At His feet are the demolished brass gates of Hell. He pulls Adam and Eve from their tombs, now free from their sin in Eden. The Righteous of the Old Testament are on the left, with Kings Solomon and David; and the New Testament are on the right.

The Ascension The completion of the events of Christ's life on earth - salvation accomplished. It emphasizes the Virgin and the Apostles more than the actual Ascension, because the importance of the event is its significance for those left on earth the new Church. This is why the Apostle Paul, who wasnt at the actual Ascension, is included as part of the whole New Testament Church. The Virgin is the personification of the Church, the earthly temple of the incarnate Word. Christ is in the act of blessing, showing His continuing work in watching over the Church. The angels next to the Virgin are messengers of Divine Providence, and reminders that Christ will return in glory The Descent of the Holy Spirit Gods new covenant with the new Israel Occurred during the Feast of Pentecost, the Jewish commemoration of the original covenant. The unity of the Church is again emphasized by the inclusion of the Apostle Paul. The order shown reflects the view of believers vs. the chaos observed by unbelievers who did not understand the event. The empty space at the top between Peter and Paul is for the Head of the Church, Christ. The figure at the bottom is in darkness, since the world had been without faith. He was made old by the sin of Adam. The crown signifies sin, which ruled the world; The white cloth with twelve scrolls represents the twelve Apostles, who brought light to the whole world with their teaching." The Transfiguration Manifestation of Christs Divinity to His disciples, Peter, John and James. It overwhelmed them and they fell down. Moses and Elijah have been explained variously: 1) Moses is the law and Elijah, the prophets; 2) Both had had private visions of God; 3) Moses represents those who have died in the faith, while Elijah, taken up to heaven directly, represents living believers. The Dormition The Death and Assumption of the Mother of God. She is first to participate in the deification of believers, attained thru the voluntary humiliation of her Son, as He took human form through her. She is surrounded by the Apostles, miraculously summoned from all the earth, and her child-like soul is received by her Son.

The Prophets Tier A later development (14th-15th cent.). Shows Old Testament prophets with their prophecies of the coming of Christ Centered on an icon of the Virgin of the Sign Represents the Church of the Old Testament paving the way for the Church of the New Testament. The Virgin of the Sign Represents the fulfillment of prophecy, particularly Isaiah's prophecy, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel." (Isaiah 8:14.) The connection with Isaiah is so strong that his icon is often omitted. The Virgins hands are in the traditional position of prayer The image of Christ shows the fulfillment of the Divine Incarnation. The angels emphasizes her position higher than the angels. The three fibula - the golden jeweled emblems on her shoulders and forehead symbolize her chastity before, during, and after bearing Christ. The Patriarchs Tier The top tier of the iconostasis. A late period development (15th-16th cent.). Shows Old Testament saints up to Moses Flank an icon of the Old Testament Trinity Represents the original Old Testament Church, presaging the New Testament Church. The Old Testament Trinity The first appearance of God to man in the visit of three Angels to Abraham by the oak of Mambre. The Angels are shown sitting at a table under the oak. They sit side-by-side as equals, partaking equally in Godhood yet still distinct. Sometimes show Abraham and Sarah serving. Shows the origin of the promise of redemption the old covenant. Connected to the events of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in the Church Feasts Tier (the new covenant) Sometimes the icon of the Divine Fatherhood used instead. Painting an Icon The Orthodox take their icons very seriously Since icons are a window on heaven only those with honorable, respectful purposes should paint them A peaceful, meditative environment is considered necessary for good work Ancient tradition has developed the ideal forms for these prayerful expressions one should not alter them lightly.

References: Alpatov, M., Colour in Early Russian Icon Painting, Izobrazitelnoye Iskusstvo Publishers, Moscow, 1974. Alpatov, M. B., Early Russian Icon Painting, Iskusstvo Publishers, Moscow, 1974. Dionysios, of Fourna, The 'Painter's Manual' of Dionysius of Fourna, Sagittarius Press, London, 1974. Gerhard, H. P., The World of Icons, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, Evanston, San Francisco, London, 1971. Ivanov, Vladimir, Russian Icons/ Vladimir Ivanov, Rizzoli, New York, 1988. Kamenskaya, E., State Tretyakov Gallery: Early Russian Art, Sovietsky Khudozhnik Publishing House, Moscow, 1968. Kyzlasova, Irina ed., Russian Icons: 14th - 16th Cent. The History Museum, Moscow, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1988. MacKenzie, David and Curran, Michael W. A History of Russia, the Soviet Union and Beyond. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1993. Maslenitsyn, S.I. Yaroslavian Icon-Painting, Iskusstvo Publishers, Moscow, 1973. Onasch, Konrad, Russian Icons. Phaiden Press Ltd, Oxford, 1977. Ouspensky, Leonid and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, 1982. Ramos-Poqui, Guillem, The Technique of Icon Painting, Search Press Ltd. and Burns & Oates Ltd., Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 1990. Rice, David and Tamara Talbot, Icons and Their Dating: A Comprehensive Study of Their Chronology and Provenance, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London, 1974. Web References: Boguslawski, Alexander. Russian Painting: Icon Painting. http://www.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/frame1.html Fuller, Michael. Russian Icons. http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/russiaicons.html Kirpichnikov, Anatolij. Old Russian Arms and Armour: Helmets. http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/kirpichnikov_helmets/helmets.ht m Smith, Diane. The Muscovite Army of Ivan IV, the Terrible. http://www.xenophon-mil.org/rushistory/battles/ivanbook.htm St. Sophia Cathedral, Kiev. http://www.icon-art.info/location.php? lng=en&loc_id=148 My other Russian stuff: http://www.strangelove.net/~kieser/Russia/