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The Icon

The Icon


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Article written by Jean Pierre Fava and kindly and patiently reviewed by Mgr. Dr. Edgar Vella, curator of the Museum of the Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral.

At the crossroads between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Malta has been not only a cradle of Mediterranean civilizations, but one of the decisive scenarios where European identity has been forged, over and over again, throughout the centuries. From the Greeks to the Romans, through the Normans and the Moors, many have sought to rule the Maltese archipelago but were eventually defeated by proud locals. Today, its many Christian heritage sites reflect the islands multicultural past and present, offering visitors a true glimpse of the universality of the Christian message in general, and of Malta’s rich history and deeply rooted faith in particular.

In fact, Marian devotion on the island of Malta goes back to early Christianity. Some would suggest it might even go back to Paul’s famous shipwreck in the island, as told in the biblical book of the Acts of the Apostles.

It is a well-known fact that the New Testament says very little, almost nothing, about how Jesus looked like. It doesn’t say anything about the looks of the apostles either. The same goes for Mary: there is not a single Christian scripture from apostolic times providing any details about her appearance either. It is no surprise then that artists relied, from the very dawn of Christianity, on the many different artistic canons of their day and age and not on the written testimony of their own Christian communities when they had to portray either their Messiah or any other character considered important, may it be in icons or frescoes.

Tradition holds that one of those early artists was also the physician responsible for authoring one of the Gospels, and for being Paul’s scribe and companion throughout his apostolic journeys: Luke himself. Eastern churches consider him as the original “iconographer,” responsible for “writing” the first icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, Luke was traveling with Paul when they shipwrecked off the northwestern coast of Malta, spending the unnavigable winter months there. Luke’s presence in the Maltese archipelago might explain why both historical artifacts and oral traditions provide evidence of a very early Marian devotion spread throughout these islands.

Even more, Luke is not only traditionally credited with the authorship of the very first Marian image of Christianity: his Gospel is by far the most Marian of them all, brimming with the seeds of what would later grow into full Mariological theological developments. Maltese traditions claim that it is likely that Luke spoke to the islanders about the Mother of the Savior. Here, we want to present you with a collection of some of the legendary Marian icons of Malta.

1.- The Hodegetria at the Mellieha National Marian Shrine

Hodegetria – Courtesy of Atelier del Restauro

According to a tradition, this moving image of the Blessed Mother dressed in a purple cloth and holding Christ child on her lap was painted directly on the rock by the Evangelist Luke in AD 60, when he reached Malta with Saint Paul. Recent assessment by art historians show that the present version of the icon dates to the 13th century. The style of the mural reveals classic features of Byzantine iconography. The Blessed Virgin Mary is depicted as a majestic figure, wearing the color of royalty (purple) and looking at the viewer with proud eyes. A flower on her forehead stands as a symbol of her virginity while her finger points at Christ Child as the source of salvation. This pictorial arrangement, known as Virgin Hodegetria (“The Virgin who shows the way”), was typical of Byzantine Marian icons during the 11th and 12th centuries. Since its creation, the icon has attracted pilgrims from all over the world, including Pope John Paull II, who famously prayed in front of the icon in 1990. Together with twenty other Marian shrines, the Mellieha National Shrine is currently part of the European Marian Network. It is very probable that Christian practice, on this site and the cave-church embracing this icon, vastly predates the present 13th century Siculo-Byzantine icon. Indeed, a tradition confirms this and relates that in AD 409, a number of Catholic Bishops visited the hallowed grotto and consecrated it as a Church. This happened very close to the Council of Ephesus of AD 431 when the Blessed Virgin was universally recognized and acclaimed as Theotokos, (Birth-giver of Christ God – Mater Dei in Latin). Therefore, it is possible that the present icon of the Mater Dei is not the first icon of the Virgin in this sacred place.

*The Icon of Our Lady of Mellieha: A Journey through the multi-disciplinary conservation project, Valentina Lupo and Maria Grazia Zenzani (Aletier del Restauro Ltd.). Treasures of Malta No. 67 Christmas 2016, Volume 23, Issue 1.

2.- St. Luke’s Madonna at the Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral

St. Luke’s Madonna | Courtesy of the Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral. Photo by Joe P. Borg

This icon depicting the Virgin with the Child Jesus held at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Paul, in the old Maltese capital of Mdina, owes its name to the long-held belief that Saint Luke authored it, in the first century. However, art historians now agree that it probably dates to a later moment of Christian history, probably the Middle Age period. Its presence at the Cathedral can be traced to at least 1588. This icon played a crucial role for local believers. The Madonna and Child was also carried annually during the procession held at Mdina in thanksgiving for the Great Siege victory. In 1604, local Bishop Gargallo decided to place it on the main altar of the Cathedral. He also covered it with a silver lamina leaving visible only the faces of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her child Jesus. Gargallo’s order had been duly executed, since by 1615 this icon stood on the main altar beneath the great polyptych of St Paul. In 1618, Bishop Cagliares thought it wise to have the Blessed Sacrament placed on the Privileged Altar dedicated then to Our Lady ‘del Soccorso,’ and the St. Luke Madonna appeared on this altar, for the first time, in the records of the 1634 Pastoral Visit. The earliest reference to a Cathedral in Mdina dates back to 1299.* However, the present Baroque cathedral was built between the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, after the old one was severely damaged by an earthquake which hit Sicily and Malta in 1693. Once the new cathedral church was built, this precious icon retained the same predominant allocation assigned to it by Bishop Cagliares. It was placed on the altar of the Blessed Sacrament chapel where it has remained ever since. In 1898, Pope Leo XIII authorised the official coronation of the “Saint Luke Madonna.”

*Letters by Pope Gregory the Great to Lucillus, Bishop of Malta, dating between AD 592 and AD 599, show that Malta already had a fully-fledged Christian community with its own Church and Bishop. Tradition holds that after St Paul’s shipwreck and stay in Malta (AD 60), Publius, the Roman Governor, became Malta’s first Bishop.

3.- Marian Icons of The Greek Catholic Church

Damaskinì | Courtesy of the Greek Catholic Church in Malta

The 12th century icon of “Our Lady of Damascus” (Damaskinì – in Malta known as the Damaxxen) and the 14th century icon of “Our Lady of Mercy” (Eleimonitria) were brought to Malta by Christian refugees that escaped from the Greek island of Rhodes following Islamic invasions. Here, the two icons found a safe refuge in the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church of Our Lady of Damascus. Both icons display a color scheme typical of Syrian icons, gold and dark purple, and depict the Blessed Virgin Mary looking straight into the viewer’s eyes as she holds Christ Child in her left arm. However, the Eleimonitria seems always to have been in Rhodes in its own church. On the other hand, the more ancient icon was originally venerated in Damascus (Syria), whence it took its name. It was said to have reached Rhodes under miraculous circumstances in 1475. From the first the Damaskinì was intimately associated with the other wonder-working icon, the Eleimonitria. For instance, when the Turks besieged Rhodes in 1522, the two icons were taken, for safety’s sake, to the church of St. Demetrius within the city walls. The Knights of St. John held the two icons of the Mother of God in great veneration, as did the local Maltese population. Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, in particular, was a fervent devotee and prayed regularly before the Damascene icon, especially during the Great Siege of 1565 and when the siege was raised, the grateful Grand Master prayed before the icon of Our Lady in the Greek church (at the time in Birgu and also named Vittoriosa after the Great Siege victory) and there presented his hat and sword as a votive offering and gesture of gratitude. They still hang there, even though the Greek church is in Valletta, since 1832.

Eleiomitria | Courtesy of the Greek Catholic Church in Malta

*Borg V., Various Marian Devotions – The Damascena. Marian Devotion in the Islands of St. Paul. 1983. The Historical Society 1983

*Buhagiar M., The Virgin of Damascus in the Greek Catholic Church, Valletta, Malta The Shared Veneration of a Miracle-Working Icon. Department of Art and History, University of Malta

4.- The icons of the Blessed Virgin of Philermos (Black Madonna of Malta) and the Caraffa Madonna at St. John’s Co-Cathedral

Blessed Virgin of Philerme | Mael vreizh | Public domain CC BY-SA 3.0

The Magnificent St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta houses the Chapel of the Madonna of Philermos (aka Panagia Filevremou, Blessed Virgin of Philerme and Black Madonna of Malta), built to house the icon of the Madonna of Philermos. This Chapel is also the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. The icon was brought over to Malta by the Hospitallers (The Order of St. John), today known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (S.M.O.M), after being defeated in Rhodes and expelled. According to tradition, the icon had been brought to Rhodes by a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land. The Order of St. John considered two sacred images as its most holy relics – the Hand of St John, a gift by the Turkish Sultan to the Grand Master at the fall of Jerusalem, and the Madonna of Philermos. The Knights considered this icon to be miraculous. The Madonna of Philermos was venerated by the Order since they settled in Rhodes in 1307. When Malta was surrendered to Napoleon in 1798, Panagia Filevremou was stripped of its precious ornaments and followed Grandmaster Hompesch into exile. Today the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament holds another glorious icon: the silver-clad icon of the Caraffa Madonna, which is carried in procession every year on the day of the Immaculate Conception, the 8th of December. The Caraffa Madonna was donated to the Conventual Church by the Prior Fra Girolamo Caraffa. Its original collocation was the tondo on top of Mattia Preti’s altarpiece of the Coronation of Saint Catherine in the Chapel of the Italian Langue. It was only after the Madonna of Philermos was taken away in 1798 that the Caraffa Madonna was relocated to the Chapel of the Madonna of Philermos.

Caraffa Madonna | Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Malta

After leaving Malta, the icon was given to Czar Paul I of Russia, who had been elected Grandmaster of the Order. During the Russian revolution of 1917 the icon was taken out of Russia, and given to the Czarina Maria Feodorovna who kept it till her death. After other vicissitudes it was entrusted by the Russian Orthodox clergy to King Alexander of Yugoslavia, who kept it in Belgrade. At the time of the German invasion in 1941 it was removed from the capital and taken to Montenegro. After that all traces seem to have been lost. Recently, it was traced in Montenegro, kept in the National Museum. It seems that as the Germans were advancing, the icon was entrusted to a monastery. During Tito’s rule the police managed to lay hands on it, and took it to Belgrade. Eventually the government decided to return it to Montenegro, and today is still kept at the National Museum.

5.- Our Lady of Victories icon at Our Lady of Victories Chapel

Our Lady of Victory | Courtesy of Din l-Art Helwa Foundation, Malta

In the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Malta’s capital, Valletta, one can find a Byzantine Icon of unknown origin. Tradition maintains that it was given to the Church by Grand Master Adolf de Wignacourt (1601-1622 AD). The icon has a delicately painted copper face and finely engraved silver riza. This church was erected in 1567 as a thanksgiving to Virgin Mary for her help in fighting off Islamic invaders during the Great Siege of 1565. The church was built on the site where a religious ceremony was held to inaugurate the laying of the foundation stone of the new city Valletta on 28th March, 1566. For its first ten years, the church served as the first place of worship of the legendary Knights of the Order of Saint John. On the 21st August 1568, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette (1495-1568 AD), who financed from his own pocket the construction of this church, died after suffering a severe sunstroke while hunting at St Paul’s Bay. Originally, he was buried in his beloved Church, but later his remains were buried in the crypt of St John’s Conventual Church. In 1716, the Maltese artist Alessio Erardi was commissioned by Grand Master Ramon Perellos y Roccaful to paint the vaulted ceilings with magnificent scenes, depicting the life cycle of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Icon Art

Icons (from the Greek term for "likeness" or "image") are one of the oldest types of Christian art, originating in the tradition of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Typically they are small-scale devotional panel paintings, usually depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary or the Saints. Among believers of the Eastern Orthodox Church (eg. in Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey), painted icons were seen in every home, and were also regarded as an essential decorative element of the Church, which accorded them special liturgical veneration. In fact, ever since the Byzantine Comnenian period (1081�) icons served as a medium of theological instruction via the iconostasis - the Orthodox screen of stone, wood or metal between the altar and the congregation - to which a large variety of icons would be attached, depicting pictorial scenes from the Bible. In fact, the interiors of Orthodox Churches were often entirely covered with this form of religious art. Closely identified with Byzantine art (c.450-1450) and, somewhat later, with Russian Art (c.900 onwards), Icons are still in use today, especially among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Coptic Churches.

Characteristics of Icon Art

Diverse Media
Although todays icons are most closely identified with wooden panel painting, in Byzantium they could be painted (or sculpted in shallow relief) from a wide variety of media, such as marble, ivory, mosaic, gemstone, precious metal, enamel, or fresco painting. Early icon painters tended to use encaustic paint, which employs hot beeswax as a binding medium to bind pigments and facilitate their application to a surface. This painting method was later superceded by tempera paint, which uses egg yolks instead.

Variety of Sizes
Icons varied in size from the miniature to the very large. Some types were hung around the neck as pendants, others (known as "triptychs", like the designs for altarpiece art) had three panels that could be opened and folded closed. Church icons were sometimes of a more permanent construction, appearing in fresco murals or glittering mosaics, which were used in church interiors as decorative and instructional art. See: Ravenna Mosaics 400-600.

Symbolic Art
Despite its pictorial educational function, iconography in the classical Orthodox tradition is a symbolic art, rather than a naturalistic one. To put it another way, in Byzantine art, icon figures were represented in a manner that emphasized their holiness rather than their humanity. As part of this, Icon art observes certain rules of composition and colour, which are designed to reinforce the theological message. Almost everything contained within the icon image is essentially symbolic. For instance, Jesus, the saints, and all the angels have halos. Angels (and usually John the Baptist) also have wings because they are deemed to be messengers. Moreover, figures adopt standardized facial appearances and poses. As far as colour is concerned, Gold symbolizes the munificence of Heaven red, divine life. Blue is reserved for human life, white is employed for resurrection and transfiguration of Christ. If you study icons of Christ and Mary: Jesus wears a red undergarment with a blue outer garment (God became Human), while Mary wears a blue undergarment with a red overgarment (she began as a human but is becoming closer to God).

All this is like Egyptian art of Antiquity, in which (for instance) a person's size was calculated by reference to his/her social status, rather than by the rules of linear perspective. Medieval painting - like that of the Proto-Renaissance (c.1250-1350), and the International Gothic era (c.1375-1450), also employed a variety of symbols. Symbolic or not, Icon art was important because it gave the petitioner direct communication with the sacred figure represented.

The origin of Icons can be dated to the era of early Christian art, when they served as paintings of martyrs and their feats, which began to be publicized after the Roman legalization of Christianity, in 313. In fact, within a century or so, only Biblical figures were permitted to be represented in icon form. (The Roman Emperor was deemed to be a religious figure.) The earliest portrayals of both Jesus and Mary were much more realistic than the later stylized versions. Thereafter, it took several centuries for a universal image of Christ to emerge. The two most common styles of portraiture included: a form depicting Jesus with short, wiry hair and an alternative showing a bearded Jesus with hair parted in the middle. As Rome declined, the focus shifted to Constantinople, where Icons became one of the distinctive Byzantine types of art, along with mosaics and church architecture. See also: Christian Art, Byzantine Period.

Some 350 years later a dispute over their use (Iconoclasm) errupted during the 8th and 9th centuries. The Iconoclasts (those opposed to Icons) claimed they were idolatrous supporters replied that icons were merely symbolic images. In 843 icon veneration was finally re-established, although very few early Byzantine icons survived the turmoil of the period - an important exception to this are the painted icons preserved in the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai, Egypt. Following the Iconoclastic controversy, more rules were introduced regulating iconic portrait art, as well as the character and scale of church fresco and mosaic decoration. Certain Biblical themes were especially promoted as subjects for these interior decorative arts, including Christ's Anastasis, and the Koimesis of the Virgin.

Growth in Icon Painting

Thereafter iconography flourished in particular during the period 850-1250, as part of Byzantine culture (only mosaics were more popular), and during the period 1050-1450 in Kiev, Novgorod and Moscow, where it became a major form of Russian medieval painting, being developed by artists like Theophanes the Greek, founder of the Novgorod school of icon painting. As far as the Byzantine icon painting tradition is concerned, we have only a few examples from the 11th century or earlier, and none preceding them. This is partly due to the Iconoclasm during which many were destroyed, and partly because of looting by Venetians during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, and lastly due to the sacking of the city by Ottoman Turks in 1453.

From 1453 onwards, the Byzantine tradition of iconography was perpetuated in regions previously under the influence of its religion and culture - that is, Russia, the Caucasus, the Balkans and much of the Levantine region. To begin with, as a general rule, icon artists in these countries adhered strictly to traditional artistic models and formulas. But as time passed, some - in particular the Russians - gradually extended the idiom way beyond what had hitherto been accepted. During the mid-17th century, changes in ecclesiastical practice introduced by Patriarch Nikon led to a split in the Russian Orthodox Church. As a result, while the "Old Believers" continued to create icons in the traditional stylized manner, the State Church and others adopted a more modern approach to icon painting, by including elements of Western European realism, similar to that of Catholic religious art of the Baroque period.

Sadly, the earliest icon painters remain anonymous, although some are known, including: Theophanes the Greek (1340-1410) who came to Russia from Constantinople and influenced the Moscow and Novgorod schools Andrei Rublev (1370-1427), his collaborator Daniel Cherniy, and Dionysius (c.1440-1502) one of the first laymen to become an icon painter. Later Icon artists included Bogdan Saltanov (1626�), and Simon Ushakov (1626�) of the late Moscow school of painting, probably the last major icon-painter. Due to the popularity of icons among the Russians, a huge variety of schools and styles of icon painting developed, notably those of Yaroslavl, Vladimir-Suzdal, Pskov, Moscow and Novgorod.

The most famous painting of Eastern Christendom is the 'Vladimirskaja', the 'Holy Virgin of Vladimir' (c.1131, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow), supposed to have come from Constantinople to Kiev, and from there, in 1155, to Vladimir. On the 26 August, 1395, it was solemnly brought into Moscow amid the rejoicings of the people on the same day the Mongols are said to have been repelled from the gates. There are many legends about this icon. When Napoleon entered Moscow it was rescued from the burning Kremlin and later restored in triumph to the cathedral. Thorough examination has revealed what is left of the original, after six over-paintings and renovations, spread over as many centuries. These remnants, though experts differ on points of detail, reveal the Virgin of Vladimir who, in expression and posture, has always been an archetype in Russian art. Next to the Virgin and Child, Saint George, the great martyr, is one of the most popular saints in Russian iconology. He is most often represented, not as the conquering hero, but as a solemnly enthroned Byzantine figure. All through the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which were the classic age of Russian painting, the Byzantine style remained the changeless expression of an unalterable faith, behind which all individual qualities disappeared.

Other celebrated Icons include: St Peter (c.550, Monastery of St Catherine, Mount Sinai), St Michael (c.950-1000, Tesoro di San Marco, Venice), and Old Testament Trinity (1427, Tretyakov Gallery). One of the most venerated Byzantine icons (now lost) is known as The Virgin Hodegetria. According to Eudokia, the wife of Emperor Theodosius II (d.460), this wooden panel icon (housed in the Hodegon Monastery in Constantinople) was painted by Saint Luke. Copied widely throughout Byzantium, the image of The Virgin Hodegetria was enormously influential on Western depictions of the Virgin and Christ Child during the Middle Ages and Renaissance era.

Icon paintings and mosaics can be seen in a few of the best art museums around the world, including the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Museum of Art, Novgorod the British Museum the Victoria & Albert Museum the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and in situ at Hagia Sophia (Constantinople, now Istanbul) the monastic Church of Christ in Chora (Istanbul) Torcello Cathedral, Venice Cefalu Cathedral, Sicily Church of Our Saviour, Novgorod and the Monastery of St Catherine, Mount Sinai, Egypt.

Icon painting had a major impact on many Russian modern artists, notably Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962).

For more modern treasures of Russian art, see Fabergé Easter Eggs, a series of beautiful but complex precious objects, made from gold, silver and gemstones by the St Petersburg House of Fabergé.

• For more about encaustic and tempera panel painting, see: Visual Arts Encyclopedia.
• For facts about painting types, styles and history, see: Fine Art Painting.


Hip Hop Culture Origins

Hip hop is a subculture and an art movement that emerged from the Bronx in New York City during the early 1970s. Its development reflected the negative effects of post-industrial decline, political discourse, and a rapidly changing economy.

Looking back to New York City during this era, we see an economic collapse. The city’s economy was falling apart due to the decline of the manufacturing industry and construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway. Much of the white middle class moved to the suburbs to escape the social and economic challenges. The migration shifted demographics and segregated communities. Conditions worsened in neighborhoods prominently populated by African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Caribbean immigrants. Urban despair also brought rising crime, gang violence, and poverty.

Consequently, businesses closed their doors, causing many economic opportunities and sources of entertainment to evaporate. As a result, urban youth turned to the streets for recreation and self-expression. The abandoned buildings and parking lots set the stage for block parties. These block parties laid the groundwork for everything associated with early hip hop culture. DJs and MCs brought the music by setting up mobile “Sound Systems” introduced by Jamaican culture. Sheets of cardboard became dance floors for break-dancers, and brick walls transformed into canvases for graffiti.

A new era was on the rise fueled by sentiments of anger, hardship, and abandonment. However, the emerging hip hop movement transformed despair and racial barriers into numerous creative outlets. It also became an outlet to deal with violence.

Hip Hop Pioneers

Several people were influential in creating hip hop. However, the most notable pioneers are DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash. These three innovators are known as the “Holy Trinity” of hip hop.

DJ Kool Herc

One of the most influential hip hop pioneers was DJ Kool Herc, a Jamaican immigrant regarded as the founding father of hip hop. Kool Herc made history in 1973 when he and his sister hosted the “Back to School Jam” in the recreation room of their Bronx apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. This historical party is recognized for launching the hip hop movement.

DJ Kool Herc also introduced the “breakbeat” DJ technique – a mixing practice he adapted from Jamaican dub music. However, Kool Herc would play funk, soul, and other genres with percussive sections. Using a pair of turntables, Kool Herc would play two copies of the same record and then switch between them to extend the percussive section known as the break. Kool Herc named this breakbeat juggling style of DJing “The Merry-Go-Round.” This breakbeat turntablism quickly became influential in the rise of hip hop music, rapping, and breakdancing.

The break section was also the most anticipated part of a song where people danced the most. Break-dancers would form dancer circles and save their best dance moves for the break. Kool Herc named the people dancing to his music B-Boys and B-Girls, which was short for Break-Boys and Break-Girls. Overtime, breaking evolved and became a global subculture that transcended into the mainstream.

Kool Herc also helped develop the rhythmic spoken delivery of rhymes and wordplay performed by MCs. He would speak in rhythm and rhyme over instrumental parts of songs to hype the crowd. His style of lyrical chanting and rhythmic wordplay was an early form of rapping inspired by the Jamaican tradition of toasting. He would shout phrases like “B-Boys, B-Girls, are you ready? Keep on rock steady,” “This is the joint! Herc beat on the point,” “To the beat, y’all,” and “You don’t stop!”

Kool Herc also enlisted his friend Coke La Rock to control the mic at their parties. During one party, Coke La Rock dropped the line “There’s not a man that can’t be thrown, not a horse that can’t be rode, a bull that can’t be stopped, there’s not a disco that I Coke La Rock can’t rock.” Many consider this verse as the first rap lyrics and Coke La Rock as the first MC of hip hop.

Afrika Bambaataa

Another influential figure of hip hop to emerge from New York City was Afrika Bambaataa, also known as “The Godfather.” Bambaataa was a pioneering DJ and music producer who organized block parties in the Brox during the late 1970s. He was also a visionary who helped guide the city’s youth away from gang life, drugs, and violence. He formed Universal Zulu Nation, a music-oriented organization that encourages peace and unity through the expressions of hip hop culture. Members introduced urban youth to DJing, breakdancing, rapping, and visual art. Soon after, Bambaataa categorized these forms of expression as the “four elements” of hip hop. To this day, Zulu Nation continues to spread hip hop culture throughout the world.

In 1982, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force released “Planet Rock,” one of the most influential early hip hop songs. Instead of rapping over funk beats, Bambaataa created an electronic sound by sampling Kraftwerk and using the Roland TR-808 drum machine. The song helped popularize the TR-808, which became a staple of hip hop music.

Grandmaster Flash

Grandmaster Flash is another innovative DJ from the Bronx, New York City. He was the first DJ to manipulate records in a backward, forward or counterclockwise motion. He also invented distinct DJing techniques such as the backspin, cutting, punch phrasing, and scratching.

Grandmaster Flash also organized a group called Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 1976. The group became widely acknowledged as one of the most influential hip hop acts. They delivered a unique style by trading off lyrics between four rappers and blending them with Flash’s unrivaled DJ skills. Flash would also perform acrobatic DJing skills by manipulating vinyl with his fingers, toes, elbows, and objects.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had several influential songs. However, their most prominent song was “The Message.” This critical hit further solidified rap as a genre and put rappers at the forefront for the first time. The powerful lyrics also detailed the grim realities of life in the ghetto, which was a significant shift from the traditional rhythmic chants of early hip hop.

In 2007, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five made history again. The group became the first hip hop act inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Early Music Technology

The early 1980s was a vital turning point for hip hop and music production. Synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines became cheaper and more accessible. Roland’s iconic TR-808 drum machine became the weapon of choice. Instead of relying on DJ breakbeats, music producers could now program original drum patterns. The TR-808 also became a cornerstone of hip hop for its powerful bass drum sound.

Sampling technology also emerged during the 1980s. DJs experimented with early samplers such as the Linn 9000, E-mu SP-1200, and the Akai MPC60. They used these samplers to piece together breaks in songs rather than using turntables. Samplers also allowed producers to perform, rearrange sections, sequence arrangments, edit, and mix music in new ways. These production methods were an early form of remixing.

Over time sampling technology advanced. A new generation of samplers such as the AKAI S900 provided increased memory, higher sampling rates, better editing capabilities, and more. Music producers experimented with techniques such as layering sounds, looping, sequencing elaborate arrangements, adding effects, and more.

Turntable and mixer technology also advanced. There was an increase of DJs scratching records to create new sounds and effects. The most influential turntable was the Technics SL-1200 due to its strong motor, durability, and fidelity.

The Golden Age of Hip Hop

During the mid 1980s and early 1990s, hip hop spread across the country in full force. It brought an era that significantly transformed hip hop culture. This new era became known as “the golden age of hip hop.” Many characterize this turning point by its explosion of diversity, influence, stylistic innovation, and mainstream success.

Record labels recognized the genre as an emerging trend and invested a lot of money into the movement. Independent record labels like Tommy Boy, Prism Records, and Def Jam became successful. They were releasing records at a fast pace in response to the demand generated by local radio stations and club DJs.

New scenes and different styles of hip hop also emerged from city to city as the culture popularized. However, hip hop music was still mostly experimental. Although, the new generation of hip hop producers had access to more advanced drum machines and samplers that allowed them to take hip hop music to the next level.

One of the definitive characteristics of hip hop’s golden age was the heavy use of sampled music. No copyright laws protected music from being sampled, so artists could use samples from a variety of sources without legal troubles. They were capturing samples from various genres ranging from jazz to rock music. However, sampling was not limited to music. R.Z.A. of the Wu-Tang Clan sampled sound clips from his collection of 1970s Kung Fu films.

The lyrical content of hip hop developed as well. The early rhythmic chants of the 1970s progressed into metaphorical lyrics exploring a range of subjects. Artists also performed the lyrics over a more complex, multi-layered instrumental arrangement. Artists such as Melle Mel, KRS-One, Rakim, Chuck D, and Warp 9 were pivotal in advancing hip hop lyrics and the art of rapping.

There was also a wave of new school rappers who were pivotal in bringing hip hop to the mainstream. At the forefront was RUN DMC, a hip hop trio who fused rap with hard rock. They took rap into the Top Ten when they collaborated with Aerosmith on a rap remake of “Walk This Way.” The single conquered the radio and MTV, catapulting rap even further into the mainstream. Some other innovators in the golden age of hip hop were L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, and many others.

It wasn’t just the music propelling hip hop culture. Hip hop fashion also hit the mainstream. Various clothes, shoes, accessories, and hairstyles became a form of expression. Street slang, later known as Ebonics, also crossed over into the mainstream. For example, the words “bling” and “fo’ shizzle” have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Sampling and Copyright Laws

Rap music heavily used sampling in the early 1990s. Original copyright owners of the music being sampled heard parts of their songs in new rap music. They didn’t like other artists cashing in on their work and wanted compensation for the use of their music.

After many legal actions, the Government passed several copyright enforcement laws. They required artists to clear all samples in advance to avoid lawsuits. However, clearing samples was expensive, and many record labels could not afford to clear all the samples. Hip hop music took a whole new direction, and producers had to make original sounds rather than relying heavily on samples. We heard a different sound because producers were no longer sampling commercially released songs. As a result, the music lost much of its jazz and soul influences.

Mainstream Influences

Hip hop music became even more commercial, becoming the top-selling music genre by the late 1990s. Different regional styles also emerged such as West Coast hip hop, gangster rap, Southern rap, rap rock, and various other genres. A new wave of artists also emerged, such as N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dog, the Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, and several others. By the end of the decade, hip hop was an integral part of popular music. It even found its way into mainstream pop and electronic music.

Conclusion

Hip hop history has a fascinating story worth exploring more. This cultural movement has seen considerable change and evolution since its inception in the seventies. What began as a local movement intended to provide a haven for African-American and Puerto Rican youth in New York City, has become a global phenomenon. To this day, hip hop continues to be a dominant force influencing the culture around the world.


The Future

The hamburger icon has become a staple in both web and app design and it doesn’t seem like it will be going anywhere anytime soon. It has made its comeback and it seems to be here to stay. The hamburger icon has gotten quite a bit of heat from the UX/UI design community. Some people say it is a terrible thing that must be stopped now and be replaced simply with a menu or with a handy tab bar. Some hate and some love it.

Others have compiled lists of websites that use the hamburger icon for wonderful simple designs. So, is it really more of a matter of how and when it is used?

Source: Techcrunch

Where Did You First See the ☰ ?

Let us know in the comments below.


AN ICON THROUGH HISTORY

SAMBO The Rise & Demise of an American Jester. By Joseph Boskin. Illustrated. 252 pp. New York: Oxford University Press. $20.95.

UNTIL the civil rights movement helped to virtually obliterate Sambo, he was white America's favorite popular image of blacks - a stupid, winning figure, drawling, wide-grinning, eager to serve, ever ready with a song and a step, nothing if not droll. Throughout American history many whites (and even some blacks), including scientists and social scientists, have made the mistake of taking this figment of the white imagination, this Sambo, as the real, true-to-life Negro.

In this intriguing, witty and often insightful social history of an image, Joseph Boskin traces Sambo to 16th-century Europe and Africa. To 'ɾxplain'' cultures different from their own, and to assuage their guilt, early European slavers created the view of Africans as ''natural slaves.'' Mr. Boskin, a professor of history and Afro-American studies at Boston University, observes that early on ''Sambo'' was used by whites as a racial label, perhaps because of its currency among Africans themselves: for the Hausa of western Africa it was a name of dignity, meaning ''name of a spirit'' and ''second son in the family'' but in the language of the Mende, also of western Africa, it was a verb meaning ''to disgrace'' or ''to be shameful.'' English slave traders probably also adopted ''Sambo'' as a form of the Hispanic slavers' insulting term ''zambo,'' meaning ''of mixed blood,'' 'ɻow-legged'' or ''monkey.'' Perhaps, too, since the name ''Sam'' was associated with English popular culture, ''Sambo'' rolled off British tongues with ease.

From the earliest days of the slave trade, whites were intrigued by blacks as performers. Slavers' journals tell of '⟚ncing the slaves'' on board ships bound for the New World. This practice purportedly enhanced black spirits and health, but doubtless it also served to relieve white boredom and to ritualize black difference and powerlessness. Like these exhibitions, and like the roles foisted upon slaves in their daily relations with whites, plantation shows and contests of all sorts seemed to confirm Sambo's flesh and bone reality.

In the South, Mr. Boskin writes, ''the entertaining slave was enshrined as the performer throughout the region, whether he played at the master's house or in churches, at fairs, horse races, balls, or wherever the dominant class dressed up.'' In the North, meantime, ''the counterpart of the entertaining slave eventually trooped to the theatrical stage as the minstrel man'' -curiously, the minstrel show featured, not black performers, but white men in blackface. At its height, in the decades just before and after the Civil War, 'ɺt least thirty full-time companies performed the show. . . . Such was the international drawing power of minstrelsy that its troupers reversed the direction of the Atlantic theatrical trade and made their imprint on English and French stages.'' ''Uncle Tom shows'' (loosely combining minstrel patter with the plot of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel) provided a popular variant of the typical minstrel fare the veneer of religious piety played best in country towns, where the usual blackface high jinks otherwise could seem too raucously of-this-world.

Mr. Boskin argues that Sambo was a kind of American jester, performing not for kings as such but for powerful whites, North and South, and occasionally expressing views which, without a wink and a hearty laugh, would have been strictly taboo. Mr. Boskin also shows that by the early 20th century Sambo was the American icon. He catalogues Sambo's appearances throughout American culture. The black figure beamed from innumerable postcards and advertisements, one of them declaring his company's product, ''The ham what am!'' Lawn furniture, tie clips and the tops of men's walking sticks showed Sambo smiling his toothiest smiles. Sambo mascots paraded the sidelines during football games his head lighted up ''restaurants, stores, hotels, businesses, universities, and even churches.''

Sambo lived on as a radio voice in 'ɺmos 'n Andy'' (whose creators, writers and first performers were white) and many other shows, and eventually would become a mainstay of movies and television. Mr. Boskin observes that as the 20th century wore on, Sambo was undercut by black figures like Rochester (played by Eddie Anderson) on ''The Jack Benny Program.'' His unpredictability and back talk became principal features of the show's humor. This presaged the roles of the black comedians Godfrey Cambridge and Dick Gregory, who not only refused to play the Sambo role but were outspoken participants in the civil rights movement. Humor like theirs buoyed the spirits of rank and file activists of the 1960's, and turned the tables on those who had used Sambo against blacks. During this period, at an emotion-charged meeting following a major clash in Selma, Ala., James Forman, then executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, told a clapping audience of black organizers, ''Yeah, there was [ Sheriff ] Jim Clark rubbin' his head and his big fat belly he was shuffling today like we used to.''

Interestingly, Sambo even shuffled his way into key works of American history. Mr. Boskin takes to task the historian Ulrich B. Phillips, the South's first modern apologist for slavery, whose major works presumed that for blacks (Sambos) slavery was a civilizing process. And he stings Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager for the 1930 edition of their widely influential ''Growth of the American Republic,'' in which racist terms are used to describe several American groups, and where one reads of blacks in slavery: 'ɺs for Sambo, whose wrongs moved the abolitionists to tears, there is some reason to believe that he suffered less than any other class in the South from its peculiar institution.' '' Even Constance Rourke falls back on the century-old convention in 'ɺmerican Humor'' (1931), where she calls burlesque ''natural to the Negro.''

Yet Mr. Boskin offers no critique at all of Stanley Elkins, whose wrongheaded argument (in ''Slavery,'' 1959) that the slave plantations reduced most slaves to mindless ''Sambos'' (his term) was the central work provoking the contemporary revolution in the historiography of slavery. In counterpoint to Mr. Elkins, modern historians like John Blassingame, Eugene J. Genovese, Herbert Gutman, Kenneth Stampp, Lawrence Levine and many others have argued that although American slavery was crushing, somehow the slaves endured it with a significant degree of dignity. Rather than following the Elkins lead -invoking a concentration-camp tyranny over the slaves - these historians have explored the slaves' capacity to improvise, to keep something secret (a pencil, a middle name, a memory), to maintain some sense of family and community in short, to create a world for themselves and to wait for a better day. Here the question of perspective is crucial: were the slaves history's pathetic victims, as Mr. Elkins would have it, or were they, to a significant degree, in control of their own minds, souls, and bodies, despite their caste status? Were they in any vital sense history's heroes? Mr. Elkins's critics say yes.

Mr. Boskin's own thesis here situates him squarely in the outworn Elkins camp. Like Mr. Elkins, Mr. Boskin condemns but nonetheless accepts the power of slavery virtually to obliterate black culture and personality. With stereotypes and antiblack humor, Mr. Boskin argues, whites did blacks in. To Mr. Boskin, Sambo was an 'ɾxtraordinary type of social control,'' leveled with special force against black men. ''To make the black male into an object of laughter, and, conversely, to force him to devise laughter, was to strip him of masculinity, dignity, and self-possession. . . . The ultimate objective was to effect mastery: to render the black male powerless as a potential warrior, as a sexual competitor, as an economic adversary.'' A chapter called, significantly enough, 'ɺs His Name Is, So Is He,'' discusses whites' changing blacks' names to such cruelly comic ones as 'ɻituminous,'' ''Snowrilla,'' and, of course, ''Sambo.'' It clearly suggests that despite some effort to resist, finally the helpless slave victim took ''Sambo'' (or a variant) as his own real name and in his heart accepted the debased role that went with it.

Mr. Boskin does not tell us that as inheritors of a tradition of mask-wearing who entered a New World full of tricks and costumes, the Africans quickly learned the survival strategy of wearing whatever mask their enslavers wished to see. The slave narratives are full of instances of blacks bowing low to whites, Sambo style, while steadily pursuing their own secret goals. Even Frederick Douglass managed to convince his owner - his last master before he took off for freedom - that he was just a happy Sambo, too contented with his place as a slave to consider another way of life. MR. BOSKIN falters, too, as an interpreter of literary texts featuring black characters.

He misreads Melville's '➾nito Cereno,'' making even the black slave rebel Babo into some sort of Sambo (Captain Delano sees him that way, not Melville). Mr. Boskin seems unaware of the superb body of criticism, much of it deriving from the poet and critic Sterling A. Brown, on the complex subject of black characters as seen by white authors. In a key article written in 1933, Mr. Brown catalogues black stereotypes as follows: ''the contented slave,'' ''the wretched freedman,'' ''the comic Negro,'' ''the brute Negro,'' ''the tragic mulatto,'' ''the local color Negro'' and ''the exotic primitive.''

One of this book's prime troubles is that it attempts to deal with far too much: Sambo as icon and actual man, slave and free, in material culture and in texts, historical and literary, on stage, radio, film and television, from slavery almost to the present. But it is Mr. Boskin's insistence on the old image of blacks as crushed victims to which I object most seriously. If he is right in saying that the Sambo image did great damage to American race relations, then it is also the case that blacks' humor kept them sane, and it kept them alive. Perhaps it also kept some whites alive. As Ralph Ellison has said, ''If you can laugh at me, you don't have to kill me. If I can laugh at you, I don't have to kill you.''


The Insulators Web Site:

Another technology that was evolving as more collectors had Internet email access was the infamous "World Wide Web" (WWW). Today this is simply known as "the web" or "the internet". The WWW allowed placement of text and photographs on various computers around the world, and allowed for anyone with a Web Browser to access this information.

In April 1995, Don Lundell started a basic web page about insulators, at www.resilience.com/insulators -- this was the "birth" of the insulators web site. At this time, I got very excited about this new technology, and took over as "Webmaster" in May 1995.

Interest in this web site was building, so I knew it was appropriate that the web site have its own domain name. On January 21, 1996, the domain insulators.com was registered, and the insulators web site was permanently moved to www.insulators.com and "open for business" on February 21, 1996.

[Side note: On December 4, 2003 the domain insulators.info was registered but did not have an active web site. In May 2008, the original domain insulators.com was sold, and the site moved to the domain www.insulators.info. Read more about the sale of insulators.com.

To this day, www.insulators.info remains the largest, most complete web site about glass and porcelain insulators on the Web. Dozens of smaller sites highlighting other people's personal collections and insulator experiences have also sprung up.

In January 2001, the domain myinsulators.com was created. This allowed free web hosting for ICON members. This was a site devoted to insulator collectors who wanted a stable web location and free web hosting with no ads and banners. There are several "subsites" designed by collectors from outside the US, including a great site about Hungarian insulators and a couple sites about Australian insulators. Today over thirty collectors have created their own insulator pages here.

Related Web Sites:

The insulators web site contained information about the NIA and Crown Jewels of the Wire from the very start. In early 1997, Carol McDougald started www.crownjewelsofthewire.com as a web site specifically for the magazine and other related material, such as book listings and the price guide. [Note: the domain name was shorted to www.cjow.com in 2004]. Today, Howard Banks is the editor of CJ. In October 1998, the NIA information at www.insulators.com/nia was moved to www.nia.org, and Bob Berry , the NIA's Promotion & Education chairman, took over as Webmaster.

For more information on ICON, visit www.insulators.info/icon or click on the "ICON" logo.

Bill Meier
Webmaster www.insulators.info
ICON mailing list maintainer

Disclaimer: ICON is not associated with the NIA or Crown Jewels of the Wire.
It is an independent entity run and privately financed by Bill and Jill Meier with contributions from ICON members.


Use of Icons

It seems that the tradition of showing respect and veneration to images developed gradually and as a natural consequence of cultural norms. "It would be natural that people who bowed to, kissed, incensed the imperial eagles and images of Caesar (with no suspicion of anything like idolatry), who paid elaborate reverence to an empty throne as his symbol, should give the same signs to the cross, the images of Christ, and the altar.

To the Byzantine Christian of the fifth and sixth centuries prostrations, kisses, incense were the natural ways of showing honor to anyone &hellip he was accustomed to treat symbols in the same way, giving them relative honor that was obviously meant really for their prototypes. And so he carried his normal habits with him into church." [1]

Such veneration spread in some measure to Rome and the West, but their home was the court at Constantinople, and to this day the descendents of the subjects of the Eastern emperor place a much higher importance on the veneration of icons than their western (Catholic) counterparts.

By the eighth century, icons had become a major part of eastern devotion. The walls of churches were covered inside from floor to roof with icons, scenes from the Bible, allegorical groups. Icons were taken on journeys as a protection, they marched at the head of armies, and presided at the races in the hippodrome they hung in a place of honor in every room, over every shop they covered cups, garments, furniture, rings wherever a possible space was found, it was filled with a picture of Christ, Mary, or a saint.

Even more reverence was paid to icons believed to have miraculous origins, such as the image of Edessa, like the Shroud of Turin.

That veneration of these icons gradually became excessive is attested to by several sources, including a (perhaps slightly exaggerated) letter from the iconoclastic Emperor Michael II (r. 820-9):

They have removed the holy cross from the churches and replaced it by images before which they burn incense. They sing psalms before these images, prostrate themselves before them, implore their help. Many dress up images in linen garments and choose them as godparents for their children.

The Iconoclastic Controversy

Although there was intermittent opposition to the veneration of images in the first seven centuries of the church, the issue first became a major point of controversy in the eighth century. The iconoclastic controversy began in earnest under Emperor Leo III (r. 716-41), a strong-willed man who opposed the veneration of images and began to persecute those who did so. Leo's iconoclastic position may have been influenced by Khalifa Omar II (717-20), who was unsuccessful in trying to convert the emperor to Islam but probably convinced him that pictures and images are idols, but he was also convinced of this by Christian opponents of icons who gained his ear.

In 726 AD, Leo III published an edict declaring images to be idols, forbidden by Exodus 20:4-5. He commanded that all such images in churches be destroyed, and the soldiers immediately began to carry out his orders throughout the empire. There was a famous picture of Christ, called Christos antiphonetes, over the gate of the palace at Constantinople, the destruction of which provoked a serious riot among the people.

Germanus, the patriarch of Constantinople, protested against the edict and appealed to the pope (729). But the emperor deposed him as a traitor (730) and had Anastasius (730-54), a willing instrument of the government, appointed in his place. The most steadfast opponents of the Iconoclasts throughout this story were the monks. It is true that there were some who took the side of the emperor but as a body, eastern monasticism was steadfastly loyal to the old custom of the Church. Leo therefore joined with his iconoclasm a fierce persecution of monasteries and eventually tried to suppress monasticism altogether.

Pope Gregory II (r. 713-31) responded to the appeal of the deposed patriarch with a long defense of images. He explains the difference between them and idols, with some surprise that Leo does not already understand the distinction. But Leo remained steadfast and the persecution continued to rage in the East. Monasteries were destroyed and monks were put to death, tortured, or banished. The Iconoclasts began to apply their principle to relics also, to break open shrines and burn the bodies of saints buried in churches.

At the same time, St. John of Damascus (d. 754), safe from the emperor's anger under the rule of the Khalifa was writing at the monastery of St. Saba his famous apologies "against those who destroy the holy icons." In the West, at Rome, Ravenna, and Naples, the people rose against the emperor's law.

In 731, Pope Gregory II was succeeded by Gregory III, who in that same year held a synod of 93 bishops at St. Peter's. All persons who broke, defiled, or took images of Christ, of His Mother, the Apostles or other saints were declared excommunicate. Leo then sent a fleet to Italy to punish the pope but it was wrecked and dispersed by a storm. Meanwhile every kind of calamity afflicted the empire earthquakes, pestilence, and famine devastated the provinces while the Muslims continued their victorious career and conquered further territory.

Leo III died in June, 741, in the midst of these troubles, without having changed policy. His work was carried on by his son Constantine V (Copronymus, 741-775), who became an even greater persecutor of image-worshippers than had been his father. In 754 Constantine, taking up his father's original idea summoned a great synod at Constantinople that was to count as the Seventh General Council. About 340 bishops attended, although the most important sees refused to sent representatives to the puppet council. The bishops at the synod servilely agreed to all Constantine's demands. They decreed that images of Christ are either Monophysite or Nestorian, for -- since it is impossible to represent His Divinity -- they either confound or divorce His two natures. A special curse was pronounced against three chief defenders of images -- Germanus, the former Patriarch of Constantinople, John of Damascus, and a monk, George of Cyprus.

The Emperor Constantine V died in 775. His son Leo IV (775-80), although he did not repeal the Iconoclast law was much milder in enforcing them. He allowed the exiled monks to come back, tolerated at least the intercession of saints and tried to reconcile all parties. When Leo IV died, the Empress Irene was regent for her son Constantine VI (780-97), who was nine years old when his father died. She immediately set about undoing the work of the Iconoclast emperors. Pictures and relics were restored to the churches monasteries were reopened.

Finally, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Empress Irene sent an embassy to Pope Adrian I (772-95) acknowledging his primacy and begging him to come himself, or at least to send legates to a council that should undo the work of the Iconoclast synod of 754. The petition was granted, and about 300 bishops attended a council in Nicea, the site of the first ecumenical council, from 24 September to 23 October, 787.

The Second Council of Nicea confirmed the use of icons, condemned the Iconoclast leaders, and in opposition to the formula of the Iconoclast synod, declared of Germanus, John Damascene and George of Cyprus: "The Trinity has made these three glorious."

Twenty-seven years after this council, iconoclasm broke out again. The icons were again restored in 842, after which the iconoclastic movement gradually died out in the east. Icons continue to be a major part of Orthodox worship and devotion to this day. The Catholic Church continues to venerate images as well, though such images are not as central in the West as they are in the East. The Protestant Reformers generally opposed the use of icons, and icons continue to be generally avoided by most Protestants today.

Form of Orthodox Icons

Orthodox icons are typically egg tempura paintings on wood, often small. There is a rich history and rich patterns of religious symbolism associated with icons. Generally, icons used in Orthodox churches strictly followed formulas hallowed by usage originating in Constantinople.

The personal and improvisatory traditions of iconographic novelty familiar from Western religious art are largely lacking in the East. The Orthodox sometimes call them "windows into heaven." In the churches of those Eastern denominations, the nave is typically separated from the sanctuary by an iconostasis a wall of icons. Many religious homes in Russia, for example, have icons hanging on the wall.

Icons are often illuminated with a candle or jar of oil with a wick. (Beeswax for candles and olive oil for oil lamps are preferred because they burn very cleanly.) Besides the practical purpose of making them visible in an otherwise dark church in the days before electricity, this symbolically indicates that the saint(s) depicted are illuminated by the Christ, the Light of the World.

Veneration of Icons in Orthodox Christianity

Especially since the Iconoclastic Controversy of the 8th century, icons have played an essential part in public worship and private devotion in eastern Christianity. Icons are honored with traditional expressions of veneration in the East, including kisses, prostrations, offerings and incense. "As it is believed that through them the saints exercise their beneficent powers, they preside at all important events of human life and are hedl to be effective remedies against illness, to drive away devils, to procure both spiritual and temporal blessings, and generally to be powerful channels of divine grace." [2]

When Orthodox Christians venerate or show honor and respect for icons, they understand that they are merely expressing those feelings for the people and events depicted, and not for the icons themselves. To make this clear to the laity, worship of icons was forbidden by the same council that defended their veneration, the Second Council of Nicea. By venerating icons, Orthodox Christians acknowledge that matter is not inherently evil, but can be used by God. As the great icon-defender St. John of Damascus explained:

I do not worship matter I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter who worked out my salvation through matter. Never will I cease honoring the matter which wrought my salvation! I honor it, but not as God. &hellip Do not despise matter, for it is not despicable. God has made nothing despicable. (On the Divine Images 1:16-17) ### Important Specific Icons

Our Lady of Vladimir (right) is one of the most venerated Orthodox icons. Regarded as the holy protectress of Russia, the icon is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Patriarch Luke Chrysoberges of Constantinople sent the newly-painted icon as a gift to Grand Duke Yury Dolgoruky of Kiev about 1131. The beautiful image was coveted by Yury's son Andrei the Pious who brought it to his favourite city Vladimir in 1155. When the horses that transported the icon stopped near Vladimir and refused to go further, this was interpreted as a sign that the Blessed Virgin wants to stay in Vladimir. To house the icon, the great Assumption cathedral was built there, followed by other churches dedicated to the Virgin throughout northwestern Russia.

In 1395, during Tamerlane's invasion, the image was taken from Vladimir to the new capital, Moscow. The spot where people and the ruling prince met the icon is commemorated with the Sretensky monastery. Vasili I of Moscow spent a night crying over the icon, and Tamerlane's armies retreated the same day. The Muscovites refused to return it back to Vladimir and placed it in the Assumption cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The image was also credited with saving Moscow from Tatar hordes in 1451 and 1480.

One of the most exquisite icons ever painted, Our Lady of Vladimir is imbued with universal feelings of motherly love and anxiety for her child. By the 16th century the Vladimirskaya (as the Russians call it) was a thing of legend. It was even rumoured that the icon was painted by St Luke on the Lord's table of the Last Supper. The venerated image was used in coronations of tsars, elections of patriarchs, and other important ceremonies of state.

But its most important service was yet to come. In December 1941, as the Germans approached Moscow, Stalin order that the icon be taken from a museum and placed in an airplane and that it be carried around the besieged capital. Several days later the German army started to retreat.

Another important icon in Russian Orthodoxy is Our Lady of Smolensk. With the population of 200,000 inhabitants, Smolensk was probably the largest city in the 15th-century Lithuania. Three Smolensk regiments proved decisive during the Battle of Grunwald against the Teutonic knights. It was a severe blow when the city was recaptured by Vasili III of Russia in 1514. To commemorate this event, the tsar founded the Novodevichi convent in Moscow and dedicated it to the holy icon of Our Lady of Smolensk.

The Black Madonna of Częstochowa (Czarna Madonna or Matka Boska Częstochowska in Polish) is a 14th century icon of a Black Madonna. It is credited with miraculously saving the monastery of Jasna Góra from a Swedish onslaught.


The Icon - HISTORY

An icon (from the Greek εἰκών eikṓn 'image, resemblance') is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, and certain Eastern Catholic churches. They are not simply artworks "an icon is a sacred image used in religious devotion". [1] The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. Although especially associated with portrait-style images concentrating on one or two main figures, the term also covers most religious images in a variety of artistic media produced by Eastern Christianity, including narrative scenes, usually from the Bible or the lives of saints.

Icons may also be cast in metal, carved in stone, embroidered on cloth, painted on wood, done in mosaic or fresco work, printed on paper or metal, etc. Comparable images from Western Christianity can be classified as "icons", although "iconic" may also be used to describe a static style of devotional image.

Eastern Orthodox tradition holds that the production of Christian images dates back to the very early days of Christianity, and that it has been a continuous tradition since then. Modern academic art history considers that, while images may have existed earlier, the tradition can be traced back only as far as the 3rd century, and that the images which survive from Early Christian art often differ greatly from later ones. The icons of later centuries can be linked, often closely, to images from the 5th century onwards, though very few of these survive. Widespread destruction of images occurred during the Byzantine Iconoclasm of 726–842, although this did settle permanently the question of the appropriateness of images. Since then icons have had a great continuity of style and subject far greater than in the icons of the Western church. At the same time there has been change and development.


Contents

The Trinity was painted on a vertically aligned board. It depicts three angels sitting at a table. On the table, there is a cup containing the head of a calf. In the background, Rublev painted a house (supposedly Abraham's house), a tree (the Oak of Mamre), and a mountain (Mount Moriah). The figures of angels are arranged so that the lines of their bodies form a full circle. The middle angel and the one on the left bless the cup with a hand gesture. [8] There is no action or movement in the painting. The figures gaze into eternity in the state of motionless contemplation. There are sealed traces of nails from the icon's riza (metal protective cover) on the margins, halos and around the cup.

Iconography Edit

The icon is based on a story from the Book of Genesis called Abraham and Sarah's Hospitality or The Hospitality of Abraham (§18). It says that the biblical Patriarch Abraham 'was sitting at the door of his tent in the heat of the day' by the Oak of Mamre and saw three men standing in front of him, who in the next chapter were revealed as angels. 'When he saw them, Abraham ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth.' Abraham ordered a servant-boy to prepare a choice calf, and set curds, milk and the calf before them, waiting on them, under a tree, as they ate (Genesis 18:1–8). One of the angels told Abraham that Sarah would soon give birth to a son.

The subject of The Trinity received various interpretations at different time periods, but by the 19th–20th century the consensus among scholars was the following: the three angels who visited Abraham represented the Christian Trinity, "one God in three persons" – the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. [9] Art critics believe that Andrei Rublev's icon was created in accordance with this concept. In his effort to uncover the doctrine of the Trinity, Rublev abandoned most of the traditional plot elements which were typically included in the paintings of the Abraham and Sarah's Hospitality story. He did not paint Abraham, Sarah, the scene of calf's slaughter, nor did he give any details on the meal. The angels were depicted as talking, not eating. "The gestures of angels, smooth and restrained, demonstrate the sublime nature of their conversation". [10] The silent communion of the three angels is the centre of the composition.

In Rublev's icon, the form that most clearly represents the idea of the consubstantiality of the Trinity's three hypostases is a circle. It is the foundation of the composition. At the same time, the angels are not inserted into the circle, but create it instead, thus our eyes can't stop at any of the three figures and rather dwell inside this limited space. The impactful center of the composition is the cup with the calf's head. It hints at the crucifixion sacrifice and serves as the reminder of the Eucharist (the left and the right angels' figures make a silhouette that resembles a cup). Around the cup, which is placed on the table, the silent dialogue of gestures takes place. [11]

The left angel symbolizes God the Father. He blesses the cup, yet his hand is painted in a distance, as if he passes the cup to the central angel. Viktor Lazarev suggests that the central angel represents Jesus Christ, who in turn blesses the cup as well and accepts it with a bow as if saying "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will". ( Mt 26:39 ) [12] The nature of each of the three hypostases is revealed through their symbolic attributes, i.e. the house, the tree, and the mountain. [6] The starting point of the divine administration is the creative Will of God, therefore Rublev places the Abraham's house above the corresponding angel's head. The Oak of Mamre can be interpreted as the tree of life, [6] and it serves as a reminder of the Jesus's death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection, which opened the way to eternal life. The Oak is located in the centre, above the angel who symbolizes Jesus. Finally, the mountain is a symbol of the spiritual ascent, which mankind accomplishes with the help of the Holy Spirit. [10] The unity of the Trinity's three hypostases expresses unity and love between all things: "That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." ( John 17:21 )

The wings of two angels, the Father and the Son, interlap. The blue colour of the Son's robe symbolizes divinity, the brown colour represents earth, his humanity, and the gold speaks of kingship of God. [13] The wings of the Holy Spirit do not touch the Son's wings, they are imperceptibly divided by the Son's spear. The blue colour of the Holy Spirit's robe symbolizes divinity, the green colour represents new life. [14] The poses and the inclinations of the Holy Spirit and the Son's heads demonstrate their submission to the Father, yet their placement on the thrones at the same level symbolizes equality. [15]

The rizas Edit

According to Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius records as of 1575, the icon was "covered with gold" at the order of Ivan the Terrible, i.e. a golden riza was commissioned by him and added to the icon. The golden riza was renewed in 1600 during the tsardom of Boris Godunov. A new riza copied that of Ivan the Terrible, while the original was moved to the new copy of The Trinity painted specifically for that purpose. In 1626 Michael I ordered golden tsatas with enamel and gemstones to be added to the riza. In the 18th century the gilded silver stamped angel attires were added. [16] Another copy of the riza was made in 1926–28. Both copies are now kept in the Trinity Lavra's Trinity Cathedral iconostasis.

The dating of The Trinity is uncertain. There is not much historical data on the subject, and even at the beginning of the 20th century historians did not dare to claim any facts and could only make guesses and assumptions. [10] The icon was first mentioned in 1551 in The Book of One Hundred Chapters, the collection of Church laws and regulations made by the Stoglavy Synod. Among other things, The Book stated the Synod's decisions that had been made about the iconography of the Holy Trinity, in particular the details that were considered canonically necessary for such icons, such as crosses and halos.

. the icon painter [has] to paint icons from the ancient examples, as did the Greek icon painters, and as did Ondrei [sic] Rublev and other predecessors. (Russian: Писати иконописцем иконы с древних переводов, како греческие иконописцы писали, и как писал Ондрей Рублев и прочие пресловущие иконописцы. )

It is evident from this text that participants of the Stoglavy Synod were aware of some Trinity icon which had been created by Andrei Rublev and which, in their opinion, corresponded with every church canon and could be taken as a model example. [17] [18]

The next known source that mentions The Trinity is The Legend of the Saint Icon Painters (Russian: Сказание о святых иконописцах ) compiled at the end of 17th century—the beginning of the 18th century. It contains a lot of semi-legendary stories, including a mention that Nikon of Radonezh, the pupil of Sergius of Radonezh, asked Andrei Rublev "to paint the image of the Holy Trinity to honour the father Sergius". [19] Unfortunately this late source is viewed by most historians as unreliable. However, due to lack of other facts, this version of The Trinity's making is generally accepted. [2] The question of when the conversation with Nikon occurred remains open.

The original wooden Trinity Church, located on the territory of the Trinity Lavra, burned down in 1411, and Nikon of Radonezh decided to build a new church. By 1425 the stone Trinity Cathedral was erected, which still stands today. It is believed that Nikon, who became the prior after the death of Sergius of Radonezh, sensed his forthcoming death, and invited Andrei Rublev and Daniel Chorny to finish the decoration of the recently built cathedral. The icon painters were supposed to make the frescos and create the many-tiered iconostasis. [20] But neither Life of St. Sergius, the hagiographical account of his life, nor Life of St. Nikon mention The Trinity icon, it is only written the decoration of the Cathedral in 1425–1427.

This dating is based on the dates of the construction of both churches. Nevertheless, art critics, taking into account the style of the icon, do not consider the matter resolved. Igor Grabar dated The Trinity 1408–1425, Yulia Lebedeva suggested 1422–1423, Valentina Antonova suggested 1420–1427. It is unknown if The Trinity was created during Rublev's peak of creativity in 1408—1420 or late in his life. Style analysis shows that it could have been created around 1408, because it is stylistically similar to his frescoes in the Dormition Cathedral (created roughly at the same time). [21] On the other hand, The Trinity demonstrates firmness and perfection which was unmatched even by the best of Trinity Cathedral's icons painted between 1425 and 1427. [22]

The Soviet historian Vladimir Plugin had a theory that the icon had nothing to do with Nikon of Radonezh, but was brought to the Trinity Lavra by Ivan the Terrible. He theorized that all previous scholars after the famous historian Alexander Gorsky made the wrong assumption that Ivan the Terrible only "covered with gold" the icon that had already been kept at the Trinity Lavra. [23] Plugin said that the icon was brought to the Lavra by Ivan himself, and that The Trinity had been created much earlier, probably 150 years prior to that date. [10] However, in 1998 Boris Kloss pointed out that the so-called Troitsk Story of the Siege of Kazan, written before June 1553, [24] contains a clear reference to the fact that Ivan the Terrible only "decorated" the existing icon for the Lavra. [25] [26]

Rublev was first called the author of a Trinity icon in the middle of the 16th-century text The Book of One Hundred Chapters. Scholars can be quite certain that by the mid-16th century, Rublev was considered to be the author of an icon with such name. The Russian ethnographer Ivan Snegiryov made a suggestion that The Trinity kept in the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius was in fact the icon of Rublev, who then was one of the few Russian icon painters known by name. The idea gained popularity among scholars and by 1905, it was predominate. [27] The Trinity is still generally accepted as his work.

Nevertheless, after cleaning of the icon art critics were so amazed by its beauty that some theories arose about it being created by an Italian painter. The first person to make the suggestion was Dmitry Rovinsky even before the cleaning, but his idea "was immediately extinguished by the note from metropolitan Philaret and again, on the basis of the legend, the icon was attributed to Rublev. It continued to serve to those who studied this painter's style as one of his main works of art". Dmitry Aynalov, [28] Nikolai Sychyov and then Nikolay Punin all compared The Trinity to the works of Giotto and Duccio. [29] Viktor Lazarev compared it to the works of Piero della Francesca. [30] However, they most likely intended to point out the high quality of the painting because none of them claimed that it was created under the influence of the Italians. Viktor Lazarev sums it up: "In the light of recent analysis we can definitely state that Rublev was not familiar with the works of Italian art and therefore could not borrow anything from that. His main source was the Byzantine art of the Palaiologos era, in particular the paintings created in its capital, Constantinople. The elegance of his angels, the inclined heads motive, the rectangular shape of the meal were derived exactly from there". [8]

According to the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius archives, the icon was kept in the Trinity Cathedral since 1575. It took the main place (to the right of the royal doors) in the bottom tier of the iconostasis. It was one of the most revered icons in the monastery, attracting generous donations from the reigning monarchs (first Ivan the Terrible, then Boris Godunov and his family), but the main object of veneration in the monastery was Sergius of Radonezh's relics. Until the end of 1904, The Trinity was hidden from the eyes under the heavy golden riza, which left only the faces and the hands of the angels (the so-called "face image") open.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th century, Russian iconography was "discovered" by art historians as a form of art. Icons were taken out of the rizas that used to cover them almost completely except for faces and hands and then cleaned. The clearing was necessary because the icons were traditionally coated with a layer of drying oil. Under normal conditions, the drying oil fully darkened in 30–90 years. A new icon could be painted over the darkened layer. Usually, it had the same theme but the style was changed accordingly to the new aesthetic principles of that time. In some cases, the new painter kept the proportions and the composition of the original, but in other cases, the painter copied the theme but made adjustments to the proportions of the figures and the poses and changed other details. It was called the "icon renewal" (Russian: поновление икон ). [31] The Trinity was under "renewal" four or five times. [32] The first renewal probably happened during the tsardom of Boris Godunov. The next was most likely finished by 1635, with the renewal of all monumental paintings and the iconostasis of the Trinity Lavra. Art historians attribute most of the damage of the layer of paint to that period. The damage done by pumice is especially visible on the angels' clothing and the background. The Trinity was further renewed in 1777 at the times of the Metropolitan Platon, when the whole iconostasis was remade. Vasily Guryanov stated that it was renewed two more times in 1835 and 1854: by the Palekh school painters and by the artist I. M. Malyshev, respectively. [32]

The 1904 cleaning Edit

At the beginning of the 20th century many icons were cleaned one by one, and many of them turned out to be masterpieces. Eventually scholars became interested in The Trinity from the Trinity Lavra. Compared to other icons such as Theotokos of Vladimir or Our Lady of Kazan The Trinity was not particularly revered, because there was nothing special about it, it was not "miracle-working" or myrrh-streaming, and it didn't become a source for a large number of copies. However it had a certain reputation due to the fact that it was believed to be the very icon from The Book of One Hundred Chapters. As Andrei Rublev's name appeared in The Book as well, he was held in high regard among the Christian believers. A lot of different icons and frescoes were attributed to him, e.g. the frescoes in the Church of the Dormition in Gorodok. The cleaning of The Trinity could theoretically reveal a perfect example of his style and help with the examination of the other icons that were attributed to him on the basis of legends or common belief. [17]

Invited by the prior of the Trinity Lavra in the spring of 1904, Vasily Guryanov took the icon out from the iconostasis, removed the riza and then cleaned it from the "renewals" and the drying oil. [17] [33] Ilya Ostroukhov recommended him for the job. He was helped by V. A. Tyulin and A. I. Izraztsov. After removing the riza, Guryanov did not find out Rublev's painting, but discovered the results of all the "renewals". Rublev's art was underneath them. He wrote: "When the golden riza was removed from this icon, we saw a perfectly painted icon. The background and the margins were coloured brown, golden inscription were new. All angels' clothes were repainted in a lilac tone and whitewashed not with paint, but with gold the table, the mountain and the house were repainted… There were only faces left on which it was possible to evaluate that this icon was ancient, but even they were shaded by brown oil paint.". [34] As it became clear during another restoration in 1919, Guryanov didn't reach the original layer in some places. After Guryanov removed three upper layers, the last of which was painted in the Palekh school style, he revealed the original layer. Both the restorer and the eyewitnesses of the occasion were stunned. Instead of dark smoky tones of drying oil and brown-toned clothing that was typical for iconography of that time, they saw bright colours and transparent clothing that reminded them of the 14th century Italian frescos and icons. [17] Then he repainted the icon according to his own views on how it should look like. After that The Trinity was returned to the iconostasis.

Guryanov's effort was panned even by his contemporaries. In 1915 Nikolai Sychyov pointed out that his restoration actually hid the work of art from us. It had to be liquidated later. Y. Malkov summed up:

Only the painting's exposure in 1918 can be called "a restoration" in the modern scientific meaning of this word (and even that cannot be said without some reservations) all previous works on The Trinity were, in fact, only "renewals", including the "restoration" that took place in 1904—1905 under the guidance of V. P. Guryanov. No doubt, the restorers consciously tried to strengthen all the graphic and linear structure of the icon, with rough augmentation of the figures' contours, clothes, halos. There was even an obvious meddling in the inner sanctum, the "face image" area, where insufficiently cleaned remains of the author's.. lines. (which were already rather schematically reproduced by the latest renewals of the 16—19th centuries) were literally rumpled and absorbed by the rigid graphics of V. P. Guryanov and his assistants. [32]

The 1919 restoration revealed Rublev's art. Numerous traces of Guryanov's work and traces from the previous centuries were kept. The icon surface nowadays is a combination of layers created during various time periods.

The 1918 cleaning Edit

As soon as the icon returned to the Trinity Cathedral's iconostasis, it darkened again very quickly. It was necessary to open it again. The Ancient Paintings Cleaning Committee of Russia took charge of the restoration in 1918. Yury Olsufyev was the leader of the team which also included Igor Grabar, Alexander Anisimov, Alexis Gritchenko, and the Works of Art Protection Committee under the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, which included Yury Olsufyev himself, Pavel Florensky, Pavel Kapterev. Restoration work commenced on 28 November 28, 1918 and lasted until 2 January 2, 1919. It was carried out by I. Suslov, V. Tyulin, and G. Chirikov. All stages of the cleaning were recorded in detail in the Diary. Based on this records and Yury Olsufyev's personal observations, the summary of the works called Protocol No. 1 was created in 1925. [32] These documents are kept in the Tretyakov Gallery archives. Some details and lines were restored, others were found damaged beyond restoration. [32]

Problems with the safe-keeping of The Trinity started in 1918–19 immediately after its cleaning. Twice a year, in spring and in autumn, humidity in the Trinity Cathedral increased and the icon was transferred to the so-called First Icon Depository. The continued changes in temperature and humidity affected its condition.

In the Tretyakov Gallery Edit

Before the October Revolution The Trinity remained in the Trinity Cathedral, but after the Soviet government sent it to the recently founded Central National Restoration Workshop. On 20 April 1920 the Council of People's Commissars issued a decree called About the Conversion of the Historical and Artistic Valuables of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius into a Museum (Russian: Об обращении в музей историко-художественных ценностей Троице-Сергиевой лавры ). It handed the Lavra itself and all its collections over to the jurisdiction of the National Education Commissariat "for the purpose of democratization of artistic and historical buildings by transformation of said buildings and collections into museums". The Trinity ended up in the Zagorsk National Park & Museum of History and Arts. In 1929 the icon arrived to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, while the copy made by Nikolai Baranov replaced the original in the iconostasis.

The icon is kept in Andrei Rublev's room of the Tretyakov Gallery. It has left the Gallery only twice. First it happened in 1941 during World War II evacuation. It was temporarily moved to the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre in Novosibirsk. On 17 May 1945 The Trinity was returned to the Tretyakov Gallery. In May 2007 The Trinity was is taken out for the Europe-Russia-Europe exhibition, but a piece of the board was dislocated and had to be fixed and reinforced. Since 1997 the icon is moved every Pentecost from Andrei Rublev's room to the Tretyakov Gallery's church. It is placed under a special show-window with perfect temperature and humidity conditions. The first President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin had an idea of handing the icon over back to the Church. However Valentin Yanin with an assistance of Yuri Melentyev, the Minister of Culture at that time, managed to meet with the President and made him change his mind. The matter concluded with a decree published in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta, The Trinity was declared a property of the Tretyakov Gallery forever.

In 2008 Levon Nersesyan, one of the Gallery staff members, revealed that Patriarch Alexy had requested the icon to be brought to the Lavra for the religious holiday in the summer of 2009. [35] Most scholars agreed that the climate inside the Cathedral is completely unsuitable for the icon keeping, that candles, frankincense and the transportation could destroy it. The only person who supported the move was the director of the Gallery. All the other staff, art critics and art historians were against it. The director was accused of committing a misfeasance. [1] Valentin Yanin said: "The Trinity is an outstanding work of art, a national patrimony, which should be available to people of all beliefs regardless of their religion. Outstanding works of art are supposed to be kept not inside churches for a narrow circle of parishioners to see, but in public museums." [1] The icon eventually stayed in the museum.

The present condition of The Trinity differs from its original condition. Changes were made to it at least as early as 1600, and most probably even earlier. The condition closest to the original one that the restorers managed to achieve was after the restoration of 1918. That restoration revealed most of Rublev's original work, but numerous traces of the work of Guryanov and of other centuries were preserved. The present surface is a combination of layers created during various time periods. The icon is presently strengthened by shponkas, i. e. small dowels that are used specifically for icons.

Presently The Trinity is kept in a special glass cabinet in the museum under constant humidity and temperature conditions.

The Tretyakov Gallery reported the present condition as "stable". [1] There are persistent gaps between the ground and paint layers, especially in the margins. The primary problem is a vertical crack passing through the surface in the front, which a rupture between the first and second ground boards at an unknown time caused. Guryanov recorded the crack during his cleaning: a 1905 photograph depicts the crack as already present.

The crack became noticeable in 1931 and was partially fixed in the spring of 1931. At that time, the gap reached 2 mm at the top part of the icon and 1 mm on the face of the right angel. Yury Olsufyev attempted repair by moving the icon to a special room with artificially induced high humidity of circa 70%. The gap between the boards closed almost completely in 1–5 months. By the summer of 1931 the progress of narrowing the gap via exposure to the humidity ceased. It was then decided to strengthen the layer of gesso and the layer of paint with mastic, and fill the gap with it. [1]

The restorers could not be certain how different layers of paint of different times might have reacted to the slightest ambient changes. The slightest climatic change may still cause unpredictable damage. The committee of restorers of the Tretyakov Gallery deliberated at length on various suggestions of how to further strengthen the icon, and on 10 November 2008 the committee concluded that the present, stable condition of the icon is not to be interfered with in any circumstance. [1]

There are two consecrated copies of The Trinity. By the Orthodox church tradition, the consecrated copy of an icon and the original (also called the protograph) are completely interchangeable. [1]

  • The Godunov's copy, commissioned by Boris Godunov in 1598–1600 for the purpose of moving the Ivan the Terrible riza to it. It was kept in the Trinity Cathedral of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius.
  • The Baranov and Chirikov's copy, commissioned in 1926–28 for the International Icon Restoration Exhibition in 1929. [1] It replaced the original icon after it had been moved to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Both icons are now kept in the iconostasis of the Trinity Cathedral in Sergiyev Posad.


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