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Athos Holy Mount

Portable Icons
2.89 The Koimesis
Koutloumousiou Monastery
Wood, egg tempera, 81.5 x 57 cm


The Original New Testament

Apart from the Koimesis, the composition also includes the Assumption of the Virgin, St Thomas receiving her girdle, and the Apostles on clouds borne by angels, each accompanied by his initials.

The inscription on the gold field in the upper corners of the icon runs: 'The Koimesis of the Mother of God'; and between the open gates of heaven and the angels' wings, half-obliterated lettering forms the inscription: '[The Assumption] of the Mother of God'.

Both the general iconographical schema and the combination of the two compositions follow the customary format established in the post-Byzantine period.

More rarely seen is the depiction of St Paul, with his hand raised in an oratorical gesture and a scroll containing a fragment from the encomia (praising) of the Mother of God: 'Hail, Mother of Life and of myself.' Unusual too are Jephoniah with his hands severed before the Virgin's bed and a second Jew. Similar details, with variations, are seen in an icon from Chania, Crete, in icons by Poulakis (Rigopoulos 1979, pp. 49-52), in an icon from Kos (Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art 1986, no. 149), and in a sixteenth-century icon from Pantokrator Monastery on Mount Athos (see no. 2.75).

The dominant colours are bright red and golden yellow with some dark blue. The modelling is soft, without linear stylisation, and the underpainting of the faces is done in dark brown with comparatively little highlighting of the volumes. The haloes are decorated with dotted ornaments.

This icon shares a number of features with the icon of St Demetrios from Iviron Monastery and may be ascribed to an Athonite workshop of the mid-seventeenth century. The date, at least, is confirmed by an inscription on the back, where, apart from the year ζPΞE' (7165 = 1657), there is a red cross with the apotropaic 'Jesus Christ Conquers' between the arms, and the acronymic inscriptions:

Θ THΣ EK/KΛHΣI/AΣ ΘΘΘ = Th. of the Church of Th.Th.Th.
XXXX = Christ Grants Grace to Christians
EEEE = Helen Found Support in Mercy

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of Koutloumousiou
17th century

The Authentic Greek New Testament Bilingual New Testament I

Icon of the Mother of God and New Testament Reader Promote Greek Learning
Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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