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Athos Holy Mount

12.5 Antimension
Simonopetra Monastery. Sacristy
Engraving on linen, 48.5 x 48.5 cm


The Original New Testament

This antimension, which is unlined and in fairly good condition, is decorated with an engraving printed by copperplate, with round medallions framing the symbols of the Evangelists in the four corners and God the Father sending forth the Holy Spirit from above. Five inscriptions in Slavonic script placed in tablets fill the intermediate spaces, informing us that the antimension was consecrated during the reign of Peter the Great, presumably in Russia, in 1707, a time when the Patriarchate was vacant. A narrow band with a stylised floral decoration borders the edge of the antimension, in imitation of the embroidered epitaphioi of the period. The style of the representations, both in the modelling of the naked areas of the bodies as well as in the drapery and in the rest elements show a dependence upon Orthodox icon-painting tradition, which is important for this period. The antimension is hemmed on the two shorter sides, while two almost illegible words have been inked onto the lower edge.

With the development of printing, antimensia were by the eighteenth century normally being decorated by the copperplate or wood-cut technique. A similar printed antimension, dating from 1740 and with inscriptions in Greek, is preserved in the Monastery on Mount Sinai (Theochari 1971, no. 7). This printed antimension is a typical early example of the iconographic type of the third period, with its decorative themes arranged in a fashion similar to that of the previous example.

Bibliography: Neilos 1991, pp. 241 (fig. 161), 250.

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