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ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Athos Holy Mount

8.7 Bema doors
ca. 1700
Koutloumousiou Monastery
Wood, left door 132 x 31 cm, right door 132 x 31.5 cm


The Original New Testament

These have both painted and carved decoration. The solid body of the doors culminates in a double-curved arch and their fretwork top is semicircular in shape. The central strip between them is decorated with a spiral leafy tendril and topped with a disk surrounding a fretwork cross, stylised roses, and a composition commonly seen in wood-carving, namely the Pelican, which represents the sacrifice of Christ. The bird pierces its breast with its beak, the nestlings drink its blood, and two large serpents complete the scene below. The solid main part of each door consists of three sections marked off by beaded strips and spiral leafy tendrils. The lower sections are filled with flowers, four birds' heads, and two vases. In the middle, spiral columns with stepped bases and Corinthianising capitals support semicircular arches and serve as frames for the painted figures of Gabriel and the Virgin. Above are two bands with inscriptions in embossed letters: 'Hail, thou that art highly favoured' and 'The Lord is with thee'. In the upper sections, two pairs of prophets are portrayed in two little icons, David and Moses on the left and Solomon and Isaiah on the right. Along the fretwork top, finally, twine tendrils with fleshy leaves, with two stylised cypresses at the ends, the whole culminating in two birds pecking at stylised grapes.

As regards its stylistic features, the woodwork still reflects the stylised forms of the seventeenth century, while the technique presages relief forms of the first half of the eighteenth century.

It should be noted that these doors have been re-used, as is indicated by the addition of a perforated band of crosses at the bottom.

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of Koutloumousiou
18th 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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