Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Athos Holy Mount

Byzantine Minor Arts
9.10 Enkolpion with the Suppliant Virgin
12th-13th c.
Vatopedi Monastery
Amethyst (?), carved in relief,
silver gilt, gemmed mount with pearls,
emeralds, turquoises and enamel (?)
3.2 x 3.3 x 0.8 cm


The Original New Testament

Small enkolpion, depicting in relief the Virgin in supplication, in a three quarter view towards the left. This iconographic type, known as Hagiosoritissa (Tatic-Djuric 1966, p. 67) and directly associated with representations of the Deesis and the Last Judgement, is commonly found on enkolpia and medallions from the middle Byzantine period (Walters Art Gallery 1947, no. 555). Although the rendering of both drapery and outline is to a certain extent both cursory and stiff, the carving is nonetheless at once dynamic and expressive. 'The simplified forms of the almond-shaped eyes, trapezoid nose and flattened hands are considered characteristics of a number of twelfth- and thirteenth-century cameos' (Loverdou-Tsigarida 1996, p. 467).

The cameo is mounted into a silver gilt sheet, decorated on the reverse in deep blue enamel (?): a Greek cross with finial ornaments on a stepped base, and the inscription 'Jesus Christ Conquers' occupying the space between the arms of the cross, the whole surrounded by an inscribed band. The inscription of the band, in majuscules, is metrical in iambic dodecasyllable; it is punctuated by eight small flat-headed rivets, and reads as follows: '+ ΜΕΘΗCΜΕ ΠΑΘΩΝ ΕΞΑΛΑΡΠΑCΟΝ ΚΟΡΗ ΚΑ(ι) ΠΡΟC ΧΛΟωΔΗ ΤΡΥΦΕΡΟΝ CΚΗΝΟΥΤΟ Π(αρθένε)'. The bejewelled ornamentation on the front is also found in sixteenth-century works. Another inscription, around the edge of the frame, describes the enkolpio: '+ ΑΡΑCΑ ΧΕΙΡΑC ΙΚΕΤΙΚΑC ΠΑΡΘΕΝΕ ΗΝ ΛΙΘΟC ΑΜΕΘΥCΟC ΕΝ ΧΛΟΗ ΓΡΑΦΑ'.

Bibliography: Loverdou-Tsigarida 1996, p. 467, fig. 406.

K. L-T.
Index of exhibits of Monastery of Vatopedi
12th 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

Learned Freeware


Reference address :