READING A NINE-PART ICON

In the 18th and particularly the 19th century, multiple icons became common in Russia.  A “multiple icon” is an icon that combines several different icon types on the same panel, so that the buyer, instead of purchasing several separate icons, had the equivalent of several on one panel.

Here is a nine-part multiple icon.  If you are a long-time reader here, you should already be familiar with several of the types included, and you should be able to read their titles:

(Courtesy of Zoetmulder Ikonen: http://www.russianicons.net)

At left is the Страстная — Strastnaya — “Of the Passion” image.  It once had an inscription just above, but most of the letters have been worn away over the years, except for the very end.  This type was discussed in a previous posting here:
https://russianicons.wordpress.com/tag/strastnaya/

In the center of the panel, we see the  Всем скорбящим радостьVsem Skorbyashchim Radost — “Joy of/to All Who Suffer” type.  This too was discussed in an earlier posting here:
https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/a-very-popular-marian-image-the-joy-of-all-who-suffer/

At right is the Благовещение — Blagoveshchenie — “Annunciation” type.  Its title inscription is still legible.  You will recall that showing the angel Gavriil/Gabriel twice is a pre-animation way of showing movement in time.  We see the Holy Spirit with its abbreviation Д С — Дух Святы Dukh Svyatui — flying down in the form of a dove to Mary.  On the table is the book she has been reading.  This type was previously discussed here:  https://russianicons.wordpress.com/tag/annunciation/

Here is a type not previously discussed here — the Gruzinskiya or “Georgian” Mother of God.  “Georgia” here of course refers to the country, not the American state.

It’s origin story tells that it was originally kept in Georgia, but in the year 1622, Shah Abbas of Persia conquered the country.  Eventually the Persians sold a number of Christian religious relics — including the robe of Jesus and this Georgian icon — to Russian merchants.   The Georgian image — then ornamented with gold and silver — is said to have been bought in 1625 by a clerk doing business in Persia named Stefan Lazarev, for his boss, the Yaroslavl merchant Grigoriy Luitkin.

Now as these old tales go, Liutkin learned in a dream vision about the Georgian icon, and in his dream was also told to send the newly-purchased icon to the Krasnogorsk Monastery in Arkhangelsk Province.  Grigoriy forgot his dream until his clerk Stefan Lazarev brought the Georgian icon to Russia in 1629.  The icon was taken to what was then Chornaya Gora (“Black Hill”) Monastery, founded in 1603 in the Dvina region, which was later renamed the Krasnogorsk (“Beautiful Mountain) Monastery in 1608 (there seems to be some confusion about the monastery and dates).

In any case, the “Georgian” icon soon became surrounded by tales of miracles it had worked.  Between 1650 and 1690 such stories began to spread into the western parts of Russia, and the image was taken to Moscow in 1654 in an attempt to avert the pestilence.

In 1658 an annual commemoration was declared for it under Patriarch Nikon (yes, the same pushy, arrogant fellow who single-handedly caused the great schism of the Old Believers).  At present it is said to be kept in the Life-giving Trinity church at Nikitniki in Moscow.

You will note that the title on the image reads “Gruzinskiya.”  That –iya ending is the standard Church Slavic ending, but common usage today gives such icons the more modern Russian –aya ending — thus Gruzinskaya instead of Gruzinskiya.

The next image is the very popular Tikhvinskiya (Tikhvinskaya — Тихвинская in later form) type.  Here it is written ТИХФИНСКIЯ — Tikhfinskiya.  The “Tikhvin” image was discussed here:  https://russianicons.wordpress.com/tag/tikhvin-icon/

The last of the Marian images on the panel is the type known as Утоли Болезни — Utoli Bolezni “Sooth the Ills.”  We see its title written on the image.  It was discussed in this earlier posting:  https://russianicons.wordpress.com/tag/soothe-my-sorrow/

Next we find three rectangles of saints significant for the family owning the image.  We can barely make out the inscription on the figure at left.  It appears to read ПЕТР — Petr — Peter.  The central figure is Святы Священномученик Киприан Svyatuiy Svyanshchennomuchenik Kiprian — Holy Priest-martyr Kiprian/Cyprian.   At right is the female martyr святая мученица Устина/Иустина — Holy martyress Oustina/Iustina.

The two saints in the center panel are the famous Russian martyr princes Boris and his brother Gleb — the first native Russian saints.  They were discussed in this posting:
https://russianicons.wordpress.com/tag/boris-and-gleb/

At right are the very noted saints Svyatuiy Muchenik Panteleimon at left, Svyatuiy Velikomuchenik/Great Martyr Nikita, and at right Svyatuiy velikomuchenik/Great Martyr Georgiy/George.

Panteleimon was discussed here:
https://russianicons.wordpress.com/tag/panteleimon/

Nikita was discussed here:
https://russianicons.wordpress.com/tag/st-nikita/

And George here:
https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/st-george-the-enigmatic/

I hope those of you who are regular readers here have learned by now that it is not difficult to learn to identify and translate Russian icons — it just takes time and the will to do it.

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