Thursday, July 01, 2021

Icons and Liturgical Objects from the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens

A friend of mine, Mr Varfolomei Upart, recently visited the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, Greece, and was kind enough to share with us these pictures of various liturgical items and icons, and some other items of interest. (I have found whatever information I could about these items from the Museum’s website, but not all of them are noted on it.)

A child’s tunic, Coptic fabric of the 6th century decorated with human figures, animals and birds. Material of this kind was highly prized throughout the Mediterranean world, and often used for the decoration of churches. The leather shoes decorated with gold below are also Egyptian, of the 5th-8th century.
An elaborately decorated stikharion for priests, the equivalent of the Western alb. (The garment worn by the deacon and other servers in Liturgy is also called a stikharion, but colored and generally made of thicker material.)
The Archangel Michael, 17th century
A fresco of the Dormition of the Virgin.
Fresco of St Nicholas
On the left, a diskos (paten) and asterisk, the frame which keeps the veil from touching the sacred species, and behind them a handcross; in the middle, an epitrakhilion, the equivalent of the stole, and at the right, an epigonation, which is worn by bishops and archimandrites, and to priests as a sign of distinction.
An icon of hte type known as an Etimasia, in which the Cross is enthroned and surrounded by angels.
A piece of a marble balustrade from the now ruined church of St John Magoutis in Athens, made to separate the sanctuary from the main body of the church; 11th or 12th century.
The Crucifixion
St George, 14th century, from Asia Minor
The Archangel Michael
A very high-quality icon of the Crucifixion made in Constantinople in the 14th century.
The first volume of an edition of the complete works of St Basil the Great, printed at Paris in 1618.
Icon of the Holy Trinity, also known as the “Hospitality of Abraham”, based on the apparition to Abraham in Genesis 18; Cretan, early 15th century.
The Falling-asleep of St Ephraim the Syrian, Cretan, 1457
An icon of one of the various types known as “glykophilousa – sweet-kissing”, by the Cretan painter Angelos Akotantos, mid-15th century.
Our Lady of Consolation with St Francis, by the Cretan painter Nikolaos Tzafouris, shortly before 1501.
An IHS in which the Gothic letters are filled with images of the Crucifixion (with the Virgin and St John), the Descent into Hell and the Resurrection. At the bottom, a Greek troparion from the Sunday liturgy of the Resurrection is written in gold letters on a black background. This is a 15th century work of a Cretan painter named Andreas Pitzou, obviously heavily influenced by the art of the Venetians who occupied Crete in the 15th century.
An icon of St Jerome as a cardinal, an interesting example of Western (specifically Venetian) influence.
Christ the Pantocrator
The Prophet Elijah; Cretan workshop, early 17th century.
St Anthony, painted by Michael of Damascus in the first half of the 16th century.
A beautifully decorated “sakkos”, the garment worn by a bishop when celebrating the Divine Liturgy. (By coincidence, I believe, rather than design, this is very similar in form to Western dalmatics of the early medieval period.)
An various parts of this iconostasis, made in the 17th and 18th centuries, come from three different churches, and have been assembled in different ways for display in the Museum. The current arrangement dates from 2010.
The oldest icon in the museum, a work of the 9th century; the starry background and inscriptions were added to it in the 10th century, while the figures of the Virgin and St John and the head of Christ, which originally had His eyes open, were repainted in the 13th.
St Catherine of Alexandria, by a Cretan painter named Victor, second half of the 17th century.
Icon of the holy abbots Sabbas, Anthony and Euthymius.
An epitaphios (burial) icon, used for the rites of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, by the Cretan painter Emmanuil Lambardo, 16-17th century.

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