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Athos Holy Mount

Byzantine Minor Arts
9.85 Pair of liturgical fans
1774 and 1777
Pantokrator Monastery
Silver parcel-gilt, copper parcel-gilt, horn and glass paste
58 x 36.5 cm


The Original New Testament

Each of these liturgical fans is formed of two silver disks bound together back-to-back and secured to a conical tubular handle, which is also a socket for a wooden pole. Set into the centre of each fan is a focal ornament in the shape of a single section of horn, carved on both sides.

Fan A Side one The cross-like, stelliform ornament in the centre, which has greatest dimensions of 9.5 x 9.5 cm, is decorated with eight relief scenes set within circles formed by a single leafy vine-like shoot; these in turn encircle a single larger (3 cm) medallion, on which is represented the Koimesis. Four of these outer medallions are 2.5 cm in diameter, the others 1.5 cm. Represented in the four smaller ones are one archangel, Jonah emerging from the mouth of the whale, and two of the Evangelists; depicted on the larger ones are the scenes of the Baptism, the Entry into Jerusalem, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. A narrow fillet decorated with a leafy tendril motif frames the whole, following the stelliform shape of the mount. Outlining the silver-gilt mount is a row of glass-paste stones in cast and gilded settings. The relief decoration of the remainder of the surface is arranged in two concentric circles, defined by two cord-like gilt rings. At the top of the inner circle (diameter 23.5 cm), which includes the central horn ornament, is the bust of Christ emerging from a cloud, both hands raised in blessing; at the bottom, a plaque surmounted by the bust of an angel displays the abbreviated relief inscription K(ύ)P(ι)ΛΛ(ος) (`Cyril'). From this plaque, shoots with leaves and flowers climb over the surface of the circle to the cloud at the top. Set among the branches are the figures of the four Evangelists, each holding an open scroll and a quill pen, and each with his symbol behind him. The outer circle, a strip 3.8 cm wide, has eight cornucopias with sheaves of flowers, separated by seraph- and angel-heads alternately. All the figures on both sides of both fans are gilt.

Side two On both the silver bands and the central applique the decoration follows the same pattern as on the first side. In the middle of the central applique is the scene of the Nativity, with the cave, the Three Wise Men on their mounts, the angels and shepherds, and Joseph, meditating. In the small medallions are David, Jesse (recumbent), and two prophets, and in the larger, The Virgin Zoodochos Pege (Fountain of Life), the Adoration of the Magi, Christ and the Woman from Samaria, and the Flight into Egypt. The inner circle of the metal section is again dominated by the figure of Christ at the top, in the same attitude as on the first side; the plaque at the bottom contains the abbreviated inscription Π(αν)T(ο)K(ρατορινός) (`of Pantokrator'), while the figures of the Evangelists have been replaced by the prophets David, Solomon, Isaiah and Moses, enthroned and holding open scrolls.

Screws hold the two disks together, and the perimeter of the fan is covered by a thick metal strip fashioned like a cord. To this are affixed fourteen cast ornaments in the form of double-sided busts of angels; alternating with these are twelve calyxes, each with a glass-paste stone representing the pistil of the flower. The fan is surmounted by a moulded, double-sided, gemmed cross. At the base of the double disk is the sphere, ornamented with a relief floral decoration. On either side of the disk a pair of copper lions, backs to the centre and roaring, firmly secure the sphere to the disk. The handle passes through the sphere, and is fixed to the rim of the disk by a small screw concealed in the decoration. Winding obliquely around the handle are, alternately, a band with a floral decoration and one engraved with the following words KTIMA KYPIΛΛOY ΠPOHΓOYMENOY TOY ΠANTOKPATOPOC EK K(ο)MOΠOΛEOC M(Y)P(I)OΦ(YT)OY 17.. (`Property of Cyril, Prior of Pantokrator, from the town of Myriophyto').

Fan B The metal parts of the two fans are virtually identical, with the ornaments obviously cast from the same moulds and only minor differences of detail in the freehand work. On the central ornament of horn the decorative pattern matches that of the first fan, but the content is different. On one side, the central medallion contains a representation of the Transfiguration, and the inscription around its perimeter (two of the words are elided) describes it as the property of Cyril of Myriophyto, Prior of Pantokrator: KTHMA KYPIΛΛOY ΠPOHΓOYMENOY ΠANTOKPATOPINOY EKOMΠOΠOΛEΩC MYPIOΦYTOY 1774 . The smaller circles contain the figures of the Eternal Father, a prophet and two Evangelists, and the larger the Annunciation, The Incredulity of Thomas, the Healing of the Blind Man and the Presentation in the Temple. On the second face, the central medallion contains the scene of the Annunciation, with the same inscription as on the first side, this time correctly written: KTHMA KYPIΛΛOY ΠPOHΓOYMENOY ΠANTOKPATOPINOY EK KOMΠOΠOΛEΩC MYPIOΦYTOY 1774. Displayed in the smaller encircling medallions are Solomon and three more prophets, and in the larger the Lamentation at the Tomb, the Descent into Hell, the Raising of Lazarus and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. The handle has no ornamental floral band; its inscription is intact, and is the same as that on the first fan: KTIMA KYPIΛΛOY ΠPOHΓOYMENOY TOY ΠANTOKPATOPOC EK KOMΠOΠOΛEΩC MYPIOΦYTOY 1777.

The Cyril mentioned in the inscriptions was the dominant figure in the Pantokrator Monastery during the latter half of the eighteenth century, and was responsible for much of the construction and decoration that was carried out in this period, as well as providing the foundation with a number of portable treasures (see e.g. the Gospel Book he dedicated as a penitence in 1777, a work which is obviously from the hand of the same craftsman).

Bibliography: Unpublished.

I.-A. 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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