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Athos Holy Mount

Byzantine Minor Arts
9.11 Cameo with Christ Pantokrator
13th c., 1st half
Chelandari Monastery
Jasper streaked with red and dull yellow
4.3 cm x 4 cm


The Original New Testament

Christ Pantokrator in bust is the subject of this cameo, which has lost a chip from the lower right edge. The head and body are carved in high relief, while the halo and the flanking monograms ΙC-ΧC are incised, as are the details of the drapery, the hair and the short beard. The workmanship is in general fairly cursory, with the result that the outlines of the Gospel and of the blessing hand are not clear. In striking contrast, however, are the almond-shaped eyes with their well-defined lids, the high cheekbones and the powerful nose, which lend a certain sternness to the expression.

There are a number of stylistic similarities between this work and a twelfth-century Pantokrator cameo in the Cabinet de Medailles in Paris (Byzance 1992, no. 200, p. 286), on which the left hand is covered by the mantle, as it is on tenth- and eleventh-century coins, and the St John the Theologian cameo in the same museum (Byzance 1992, no. 203, p. 287), which has the same expressive power in spite of the harsh stylization. Iconographically, this cameo is closely related to, and possibly a copy of, those in the Monastery of Chelandari (late 12th-early 13th c.) and the Belgrade Museum of Applied Arts (13th c.; Popovic 1983, pp. 18-19, figs. 15, 17).

Bibliography: Radojcic 1955 (1), p. 183. Bogdanovic - Djuric - Medakovic 1978, fig. 44. Popovic 1983, pp. 8, 18-19, fig. 17 (right).

K. L-T.
Index of exhibits of Monastery of Chelandari
13th century

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