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Athos Holy Mount

Byzantine Minor Arts
9.74 Chalice
Silver gilt
Height 23 cm, rim diameter 12 cm, base diameter 13 cm


The Original New Testament

About half-way up the bell-shaped cup of this chalice is a heavily cross-hatched band displaying the customary eucharistic inscription ('Drink ye all of it....') engraved in Slavonic. The stem of the chalice consists of two cylindrical sections above and below the plain knop; these are decorated with open-work quatrefoils inscribed within circles. The hexagonal foot broadens into a flattened, six-lobed base, the edge of which is decorated with a composite open-work motif of a scrolling vine and quatrefoils inscribed within circles. An elegantly designed inscription in Slavonic, worked in two rows on a heavily hatched ground running around the lower part of the foot, reads as follows: 'SII POT/IR STVORI/ IO BOGDA/N VOEVO/DA S(Y)N S/TEFANA /NOEVODI V/NOU(K) RADOUL/A VOEVODI I D/ADE EGO V PROTATIE V/ SV(E)TOI GORI V' (This chalice was made by Io-Bogdan Voevode, son of Stefan Voevode, grandson of Radul Voevode, and was given to the Protaton on Mount Athos, to the). The inscription continues, in plainer lettering, on a third line: 'HRAM SV(E)TAGO P/REDITECA (Church of John the Prodrome).

The engraver evidently ran out of space, and was obliged to adopt a simpler style for the final element of the inscription, the name of the recipient church. Bogdan the Monophthalmos, Voevode of Moldavia (1504-17), was the son of Stephen the Great, and - like his father - supported the Protaton with various sponsorships as well as splendid gifts. According to a now lost inscription, he subsidised the construction work carried out in 1507/8, and possibly also the repairs to the narthex (1512), in the gallery of which is the Chapel of John the Prodrome (Nasturel 1986, pp. 295-6). In this way Voevode Bogdan continued the policy of his father, Stephen the Great. His name is thus recorded among the benefactors of the great pilgrim centres of the Orthodox world, who for centuries to come would continue to provide them with both financial support and priceless church silver gifts.

This elegantly proportioned chalice has several features typical of the international Gothic style, such as the bell-shaped cup, so characteristic of the fifteenth century, the quatrefoils inscribed in circles which, in this particular form, had been used since the middle of the fourteenth century, and the six-lobed foot, a shape as popular as the plain, undecorated knop was rare (Fritz 1982, pp. 138, 135, fig. 406 and 566, p. 146. Braun 1932, p. 107). The fret-work motif on the edge of the foot is a late-Gothic ornament that was widely used in Hungary and Transylvania from the mid-fifteenth through the sixteenth century (Fritz 1982, p. 135. Roth 1922, II, pl. 96, no. 1). The type of hatching underlying the inscription, already long used throughout Central Europe, occurs in Moldavia and neighbouring Transylvania, as well as in Hungary (Fritz 1966, p. 32. Nicolescu 1968, no. 215, p. 196. Roth 1922, II, pl. 41. Kolba - Nιmeth 1986, no. 5, p. 16).

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Y. I.-P.
Index of exhibits of Protato
16th 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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