FOUR (OR MORE)

Today we will look at another four-part icon.  Such multiple icons (иконы многочастные/ikonui mnogochastnuie) enabled the purchaser to have four or five different icon images on a single panel — the equivalent of that many separate icons.  You will also find them referred to as “four-field” icons and “quadripartite” icons.  I like the term “multiple” icon, which covers anything from two to three to four to five or more individual icon images painted on a single panel.

This is a Vetka / Ветка icon, as are certain others in the Maryhill Museum collection.  By that I mean it is in the manner typical of the Old Believer settlements in the region of the towns of Vetka (now in Belarus) and Starodub (now in nearby Briansk Oblast, Russia).  This area has changed hands often over the centuries, but it is where today the borders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine come together.

(Courtesy of Maryhill Museum)

We will begin with the first image at upper left:

I hope you all easily recognize it as an example of the “Joy to All Who Suffer” type, which I discussed in previous postings.  You have probably noticed that there are always variations as to which saints are included, as well as whether the “suffering” are picture too, or — as here — omitted.

Let’s look at the title inscription anyway:

It reads:

ПРЕСВЯРЫЯ БОГОРОДИЦЫ ВСЕМЪ СКОРБЯЩИМЪ РАДОСТЬ
PRESVYATUIYA BOGORODITSUI VSEM” SKROBYASHCHIM” RADOST’
MOST-HOLY GOD-BIRTHGIVER TO-ALL SUFFERING    JOY

In normal English,
“The Most Holy Mother of God ‘Joy to All Who Suffer.'”

Oh, you are going to be so tired by the time we get through all this.

We see:

Left bottom with scroll.  Apostle Peter:

«Велико имя Святыя Троицы! Пресвятая Богородице, помогай нам!
“Great is the name of the Holy Trinity! Holy Mother of God, help us! “

Right bottom with scroll.  Prophet Iob/Job: from Job 2:10:

Аще благая прияхом от руки Господни, з[лых ли не стерпим]?
“Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

Then we have two angels with scrolls bearing fragmentary inscriptions.

Angel at left with scroll:

Сице глголетъ господь боля
“Thus says the Lord: Suffering/Pain …”

Angel at right with scroll:

Радуитеся и веселитеся яко …
“Rejoice and be glad, for …”

Scroll above left angel begins:

Всем скорбящимъ и обедимымъ …
“To all who suffer and are offended …”

Scroll above right angel begins:

Всемъ вамъ скрбящим радость
“To all you who suffer, joy …”

The saints at left are, from top left:

Holy Martyr Vnifantiy/Boniface
Holy Priest-martyr Kharlampiy/Kharalampos
Holy Nikolae/Nicholas Wonderworker
Holy Apostle Pavel/Paul

The saints at right are, from top left:

Venerable Pelagia
Venerable Paisiy/Paisius
Righteous Aleksiy/Alexei, Man of God
Holy Prophet Iov/Job
Venerable Iosif/Joseph

The second image is at upper right, with its title inscription:

It reads:

СТРАДАНИЯ СВЯТЫХЪ МУЧЕНИКОВ КИРИКА И ОУЛИТЫ
STRADANIYA SVYATUIX” MUCHENIKOV KIRIKA I OULITUI
“THE PASSION OF HOLY MARTYRS KIRIK/CYRICUS AND OULITA/JULITTA”
Stradaniya  — meaning “suffering” or “passion” is a term often used in icons for the suffering during martyrdom of various saints.

Here is the icon:

Kirik and Oulita were supposedly a mother-son pair of martyrs under Emperor Diocletian.  Their hagiography says they were arrested at Tarsus in Cilicia.  The ruler there attempted to ingratiate himself with the boy, but  three-year-old Kirik was having none of it, and the tale says that he called on the name of Christ, and kicked the ruler in the stomach.  At this offense, the ruler threw Kirik down the steps with such force that his head was crushed. His mother Oulita was tortured, then beheaded in the year 296 c.e.

The sequence of scenes in the icon begins at lower left with the “Birth of Holy Martyr Kirik”:

It continues at lower right, with Kirik and Oulita brought before the ruler:

Then the scene moves to upper left:

The inscription tells us that the hegemon/ruler had Oulita beaten, and Kirk cried out “I am a Christian,” and pulled the beard of the ruler, who then killed him.

At upper left, the inscription tells us, we see Oulita praying at the time of her martyrdom, then after her prayer she was beheaded:

The third icon type of the four-part icon is at lower left.  It is identified by its title inscription:

ВЗЫСКАНИЕ ПОГИБШИХЪ ДУШАХЪ
VSUISKANIE POGIBSHIKH” DUSHAKH”
“RECOVERY OF LOST SOULS.”

This icon type — which was quite popular in the 19th century — is more commonly known in English by the more loosely translated title “Seeker of the Lost.”

Here is the image:

The fourth icon is at lower right.  It is a gathering of saints, and the saints included would usually depend on the choice of the purchaser of the icon.

They are, from top left:

Holy Martyr Tatiana
Holy Martyr Oul’yaniya/Ioulyaniya/Juliania
Venerable Marfa/Martha
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matfey/Matthew
Holy Prophet Isaiya/Isaiah
Holy Speridoniy/Spyridon, Bishop
Holy Priest-martyr Antipiy/Antipas

Well, given that it is a four-part icon, we should be done with it, right?  Wrong.  Four-part icons often have a central image, which — as here — is frequently the Crucifixion:

It has some of the usual inscriptions, which I have discussed in previous postings.  “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is abbreviated on the top crosspiece.  On the larger crossbeam is “King of Glory” and “Son of God.”  There is an additional four-letter abbreviation that appears to be a miswriting of НИКА –NIKA — the standard Greek inscription meaning “He Conquers.”  We see also the abbreviations for “spear” and “sponge” above the implements of the passion.

On the lower slanting crosspiece we see “The Place of Judgment Has Become Paradise,” and the two-letter abbreviation for “Hill of Golgotha.”  And we see the blood of Jesus dripping down onto the “Skull/Head of Adam.”

Now there are all kinds of variations as to which icon types are included in four-part icons.  That again depended on the choice of the person ordering the icon.

Oh yes  — and before we finish with this icon, we must also note the presence of “Lord Sabaoth” — God the Father — in the clouds at top center of the four-part icon.  And in the circle just below him is the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

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