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Athos Holy Mount

Byzantine Minor Arts
9.48 Altar and processional cross
Pantokrator Monastery
Silver, parcel-gilt, and glass-paste stones
62.3 x 36.8 cm


The Original New Testament

This cross has trefoil arms, a knop ornamented with flutes and a fretwork band, and a conical socket which is fixed to a wooden base when the cross is to be placed on the Altar and to a wooden rod when it is to be carried in procession. One side bears a representation of the Crucified Christ, with medallions of the Evangelists, in bust, and their symbols at the ends of the arms; and the other the Anastasis, with medallions of prophets. In the four corners and on the lobes of the trefoils are tiny cast, gilt cherubs framed by Renaissance ornaments surmounted by glass-paste stones. Small gilt lions on Rococo mounts are fixed to the sides of the vertical arm. Running obliquely around the conical socket is the engraved inscription: '(Ε)ΜΟΥ ΠΡΟΗΓΟΥΜΕΝΟΥ ΠΑΝΤΟΚΡΑΤΟΡΟΣ ΕΚ ΚΟΜΟΠΟΛΕΩΣ ΜΥΡΙΟΦΥΤΟΥ 1777' (Belonging to the prehegumen of Pantokrator, of the town of Myriophyto, 1777).

The trefoil finials, with their Renaissance ornaments, and the flutes on the knop are reminiscent of the Italian works which, from the second half of the fifteenth century on, inspired painters, goldsmiths and wood-carvers in the Latin-occupied regions (Goi 1992, no. VII.2. pp. 186-7. Sophocleous 1994, no. 85, pp. 117-8. Chatzidakis 1985, pls. 140, 166). Western influence is evident in certain details of the iconography, such as the type of the Anastasis and the marked curvature of Christ's body in the Crucifixion; these features, as well as the association of these scenes with the prophets and Evangelists or their signs, are typical of early silver crosses from the Southern Aegean and Cyprus, and may be found, in precisely the same synthesis as here, on book covers from the first half of the eighteenth century (Koutelakis 1996, fig. 41. Fokas 1989, no. 110, pp. 316-8). In time, and with many variations, this type of composition became the most commonly used. Although inferior in quality, this cross from the Monastery of Pantokrator in both craftsmanship and iconography in many ways resembles a cross in the Church of Evangelismos in Platanos, on Leros, as well as another, later, cross belonging to the Greek Orthodox community in Trieste (1819); all three probably reflect a common model, although likely at several removes (Crusvar 1992, no. X.14, p. 285). Western influences reached the East by different routes, of course, and were assimilated at varying rates and to varying degrees.

This relatively fine for the period piece of work was one of many offered to the monastery by its prehegumen, Cyril of Myriophyto, who as treasurer also carried out extensive works at the monastery (Millet - Pargoire - Petit 1904, no. 173 p. 54, nos. 174 and 178 p. 55, nos. 180 and 184 p. 56, nos. 186 and 187 p. 57, nos. 194 and 196 p. 59).

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Y. I.-P.
Index of exhibits of Monastery of Pantokrator
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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