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Athos Holy Mount

Modern Greek Stone-Carving
7.4 Relief plaque
Monastery of St Paul
Marble, 70 x 65 cm
Tinos workshop


The Original New Testament

One of the most popular representations of saints is that of the equestrian St George slaying the dragon. The theme of dragon-slaying, which has counterparts in similar ancient themes, symbolises the victory of light over darkness, especially in the Christian tradition, where the dragon is identified with the devil. So, apart from anything else, the scene has a clearly apotropaic aspect. It illustrates the well-known folksong that relates how St George killed the monster of the source and snatched the princess from its jaws.

On this plaque, the saint gallops along, having already overpowered the dismayed dragon, into which he thrusts his spear. Before the horse's hooves, the princess flees in terror. Although she is depicted frontally, in accordance with the folk-art tradition, the sculptor has attempted to convey the idea of movement through the averted hands, the bent knee, and the rippling veil. In the upper right corner, the hand of God in a cloud assists the saint with a blessing, as in votive icons. The inscription reads: 'Saint George'.

This plaque is one of many embedded high up in the outer facades of the katholikon and belfry of St Paul's Monastery. They were all produced by the same workshop about 1820, as the inscription on one of them, on the belfry, attests: '1820 August 28'. Later on, when the katholikon was finished (1839-44), they were re-used here.

The panel's iconographical type is clearly modelled on contemporary engravings. However, the existence of an identical representation at Ktikados on Tinos (1823: Florakis 1980, fig. 58) and in Xenophontos Monastery (closure panel in the north facade of the katholikon, 1819) by a Tinian workshop confirms the presence of Tinian marble-carvers at St Paul's Monastery too. They probably produced all the monastery's marble reliefs between 1816 and 1821, as other evidence attests (see the Introduction).

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of St. Paul's
19th 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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