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Athos Holy Mount

10.1 Phiale (holy water font)
16th c., 2nd half
Pantokrator Monastery
Earthenware with Iznik decoration
Height 34.5 cm, base diameter 22.5 cm, rim diameter 32.5 cm


The Original New Testament

This phiale of red clay has a hemispherical bowl and a high conical foot, with a raised half-annulus where bowl and foot meet. Its painted polychrome decoration (Lane 1957, p. 54: Iznik III. Saraηhane 2, 1992, p. 245: Iznik IIIA), executed on a green ground, has scenes and decorative motifs outlined in black and highlighted in red. On the outside, both the bowl and the foot are covered with figures of animals and mythological beings, all in motion: deer, hares, dogs, confronted Harpies, four-footed anthropomorphic creatures eating pomegranates, birds, cocks, swans. Scattered among the figures are leaves and petals; these are not merely decorative, but form an integral part of this painted world, for here and there the animals are playing with them. A succession of white circles with swirls of red stand out against the red ground of the bands ornamenting the rim and the raised annulus of the phiale. Just above the annulus is another band, with light blue 'palmettes' on a white ground. A green and blue band zig-zags around the lower edge of the foot: the upper chevrons thus formed are coloured in red, the lower blue with red dots. The interior surface of the phiale is white: around the rim runs a band where large rounded quadrilateral lights alternate with smaller, four-lobed ones, framing red lotus flowers with blue dots at their centres and blue quatrefoils, respectively. In the centre of the bowl is a large circular boss bearing, on a green ground and among a pattern of leaves, three hunting dogs, two facing forward and the third moving to the right.

The shape of this phiale imitates that of a metal vessel. While figures of animals and mythological creatures are uncommon in Iznik pottery (Lane 1957, p. 58, pl. 42A), pieces similar in decorative technique have been found in excavations of kilns at Nikaia (Aslanapa - Yetkin - Altun 1989, p. 247). This phiale was probably intended for a Christian customer (Saraηhane 2, 1992, p. 246).

Bibliography: Unpublished.

Ch. B.
Index of exhibits of Monastery of Pantokrator
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

Learned Freeware


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