Emmanuel Mutafov

Accos, Prof., PhD Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria

The Reverse of the Orthodox Icon: an Aspect of Holy Images at once Obvious and Hidden

  • Summary/Abstract

    This text is the outcome of a research made by the author during his stay in Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in October–December 2012 and is based on the public lecture held by him in the same institution. Texts of other scholars are taken as a starting point to view the role, function and typology of the images, signs and inscriptions on the reverse of the Eastern Orthodox icons. The author attempts at a more convincing differentiation between the icons with equal by its quality bilateral painting and the icons with only decorative elements on the back. The first have been used in the service while the latter were designed to hang on the wall. Therefore the messages on their invisible side have addressees limited in numbers and with obscure training. In this light the thesis of the main apotropaic function of such inaccessible decoration is criticized with the argument of lacking of mechanism for attracting and neutralizing the evil. Actually, for any Orthodox Christian the image of holiness probably has no “face” and “back”. All these considerations however remain in the sphere of the interpretative hypotheses because there are no sources about the theological treatment of the case or instructions in the painters’ guides, nor are there evidences about the recipients’ behavior in front of this aspect of the icon.

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Eine falsche Übersetzung – eine neue Ikonographie – ein nicht bestimmter Ritus. De Staurolatria Orthodoxa

A wrong translation – a neu iconography – an indefinite rite. De Staurolatria Orthodoxa

  • Summary/Abstract

    In the article a unique by it plot for the Bulgarian Middle Ages and the Orthodoxy icon is studied – “Provenance of the Honest Cross” from the collection of the Rila Monastery. For the appearance of such a plot in the East, they appointed is the wrong translation to church-Slavonic from the Greek name of the holiday “Taking of the Honest Cross”. The author finds works by the same artist from the end of the XVIII century in other Bulgarian collections, searches even remote iconographic parallels, as well as historical grounds for such imagery, summarizes the cult to the Holy Cross in the Orthodoxy. The artistic basis for comparison in the article is diachronical – it stretches from the VI to the XIX century and it moves from Russia, across the Balkans to the island of Cypress. The comparison with the western tradition has not been omitted. Finally, the author correlates the appearance of the icon “Provenance of the Honest Cross” to the specific religious-festive complex in the Rila Monastery, suggesting hypothesis for the presence of such an icon, made by a master from Athos, namely at the Rila Monastery. E. Mutafov’s approach is comparative-linguistic, supported by art-critical methodology and a

    Keywords:

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