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Athos Holy Mount

Byzantine Minor Arts
9.64 Girdle with buckle
1772 and 1774
Pantokrator Monastery
Cloth, silver, parcel-gilt
Length 9.2 cm


The Original New Testament

Woven into the girdle are the Jerusalemite iconographic subjects typical of the period: a depiction of the Dome of the Rock, with votive lamps suspended above it, as in the illustrations in pilgrims' guides to the Holy Land, and the inscription: 'ΚΤΗΜΑ ΚΥΡΙΛΛΟΥ ΠΡΟΗΓΟΥΜΕ/ΝΟΥ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΝΤΟΚΡΑΤΟΡΟΣ 1774' (Property of Cyril, Prehegumen of Pantokrator, 1774) (Sakota 1988, p. 169, figs. 97-8. Ballian 1992 (2), no. 31, p. 66. Kadas 1994, p. 781, figs. 9-10). The two halves of the buckle are round; the closure, a frond-like hook which passes through a ring, is balanced on the outer sides by delicate cast open-work ornaments. One half of the buckle displays the scene of the Crucifixion, depicted as taking place simultaneously outside the walls of Jerusalem, which are visible in the background, and within the city, for the ornate architectural setting which frames the scene represents the Church of the Anastasis; this rendering is inspired by earlier engravings and pilgrims' books (Kadas 1994, pp. 777-9, figs. 1 and 3-5. Papastratou 1986, II, no. 567, pp. 531-4). On the other half, Christ in the familiar scene of the Anastasis rises up above the trampled Gates of Hell, rather than the sarcophagus, in front of a building which represents the Dome of the Rock. Engraved on the back of the buckle is the inscription: 'ΚΤΗΜΑ ΠΕΦΙΚΕ ΚΗΡΙΛΛΟΥ ΠΡΟ/ΗΓΟΥΜΕΝΟΥ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΝΤΟΚΡΑΤΟΡΟΣ ΕΚ ΚΟΜΟΠΟΛΕΩΣ ΜΗΡΙΟΦΙΤΟΥ 1772' (Property of Cyril of Myriophyto, Prehegumen of Pantokrator, 1772).

Ecclesiastical scholars have given a number of interpretations of the symbolism of the girdle as a liturgical vestment. One is that the girdle is a reminder of the priest's vocation, a symbol of temperance, spiritual vigilance, and the spiritual strength that comes directly from God, as expressed by the verses recited by the priest as he dons it (Psalm 18: 32-33: 'It is God that girdeth me with strength...'; Kourkoulas 1991, pp. 54-5). This girdle, as the woven inscription tells us, was made in Jerusalem in 1774 especially for Prehegumen Cyril; we do not however know when the buckle, made two years earlier, was attached to it. This type of buckle, with a figurative relief decoration, seems to have been common from the eighteenth century on (Pandurski 1977, fig. 291). Here, the evident weaknesses in design and workmanship cannot conceal the fact that the craftsman was basing his work upon a very fine model. The personal belongings and other gifts bestowed upon the Monastery of Pantokrator by Cyril of Myriophyto, in the Propontis region of Eastern Thrace, reveal him as one of its wealthiest monks and rank him as one of its greatest donors.

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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