Russian Orthodox icons Art

Icoane ortodoxe brodate(The russian orthodox icons)

Since anсient times in Russia skilled women embroidered hand-written icons. Some of Them by overseas beads, and others often by pearls and sawed nacre, flavouring this hand-made miracle with jewels and semi-precious stones.

But the misfortune had come, and our monasteries that were a stronghold of Orthodoxy had been closed, brotherhood and sisters had been dispersed, churches had been closed. They tried to destroy our faith as well, but that was above their strength. The faith in God lives in people’s souls – nobody sees it, nobody hears it, but it warms and supports the people deep inside. But the orthodox traditions were seen by everyone, and they destroyed them.

The same case with embroidery: who had this skill – had died, and youth had not learned it. Moreover it was dangerous to have this skill in that time. Thus, this ancient skill was gradually forgotten.

Unique gift - The beaded icons.

But the soul-alive does not have a peace; it wants to express in visible beauty the love to the God it has. And because of this, like stars in the sky, all across the Mother-Russia become to appear native-masters, which revive the lost skill.

In various ways. One copies few things, which still exists, someone else has looked at ancient works, and dares to contrive on his own. There is such a person in our city – artist Maria Yantovskaya. She started to embroider a long time ago – more then 30 years ago, in those days when such creativity was dangerous.

She also invented own techniques of an embroidery of icons, and then taught the others. And those works, that you can see here, are made by her techniques – every bead is sewn separately, but all together, like the Byzantine mosaic, they form an integral picture. And though these icons are executed strictly on an orthodox canon, nevertheless there is a place for creativity even in its frames – to decorate with stones, or pearls, or amber. So the each icon is a unique one, the only one. But, why I just tell you – you better look ….

The Icon of Our Saviour, Not Made by Hands

Ones, at the days of the Christophany there was a king, named Avgar, who lived in Edess - one of Syrian cities on the other side of the Euphrates River. He was suffering from an illness and he had heard about wonderful healings, made by Christ, he wrote to the Savior a letter with an expression of belief in him, as in God who had come from Heavens. He invited the Lord to the capital of his land- Edess, offered him the residence for the sermon of the Word of God and asked to grant him healing and to share the kingdom with him.

But the Lord has rejected the invitation, having notified the king that his mission on the Earth was finished and he was going back to The Father and after the revival he promised to send him one of his disciples who would cure him. Then Avgar sent a painter to draw Jesus Christ`s face, but the painter couldn’t do it for it was impossible to endure the wonderful light from the face of the Savior.

Because of his philanthropy and not to grieve the prince, the Lord washed his hands, watered his face and put the towel onto it, and the embodied image appeared on the towel. When this image was brought to Avgar, it gave him healing. And this image and its replicas ever since are called “the Icon of Our Saviour, Not Made by Hands”.

About the icon of Mother of God Kazanskaya

This story happened in 1579. Once the nine-year girl, who lived in Kazan, the daughter of a rifleman, dreamed in her sleep that Mother of God told her, that there was the working wonders icon under the ruins of the burnt house, and she had to dig it out. No one believed the story of girl, but that dream went on and on, and then Matrena herself started to dig out ruins and she actually found the icon. It is remarkable, that the first priest, who took sacred thing from the hands of child, was the Moscow supreme pontiff to be - Ermogen, one of the most famous saints of the Russian Orthodox Church. Soon icon worked the first miracles (healings).

Then on the spot it was found the monastery was raised (by the way, in this monastery Matrena afterwards took the veil). In XVII century the copy from the wonder-working Kazan' icon was made for Moscow, and this icon twice saved the capital from the enemies and gave victory to Russians. There are copies of Kazan' icon in Petersburg and in some other cities. Today the existing copies from the Kazan' icon are honored in Moscow, Kazan and Petersburg, and also - Yaroslavl, Vyaznikov, Nizhnelomovskiy, Tobol'skiy, Kaplunovskiy, Tambovskiy, Vysochinovskiy, Vyshenskiy, Bogorodsko-Ufimskiy.

In front of the icon of the Mother of God «KAZAN» - they pray for healing blindness, for rescues from the foreign invasions. The icon is the people’s defender in hard times. It blesses couples who going to marry. Days of memory: 8 (21) Jul 22 (4) October.

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The Zagorsk Museum of Art and History founded on the base of the famous Trinity-Sergjus Monastery near Moscow, has in its possession a vast collection of Russian embroidery dating from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Numerous pieces worked in silver and gold thread, coloured silks and pearls are among the finest produced anywhere in Europe of the period and constitutes the greatest Russian contribution to the art of painting and folk art.
Ornamental embroidery had been widespread in Russia long before the adoption of Christianity. The introduction of the Christian religion in the late tenth century gave rise to ecclesiastical embroidery which, like icon painting, was to serve the Christian cult. Embroidered images of saints and religious subjects adorned ecclesiastical vestments as well as various icon cloths, hangings and palls. Like icons, these articles were part of religious ceremonies. Ornamental embroidery also retained its importance in Early Russia where it was generally decorated clothing, head-dress and furniture.
Ecclesiastical and ornamental embroideries were produced at special workshops which functioned at the courts of princes and boyars, and in the homes of rich merchants, being usually run by the lady of the house. Between the late fifteenth and mid-sixteenth centuries, the foremost workshops were those of Grand Princes of Moscow and later, of the Tsar. The ability of both designers and embroiderers allowed to execute exquisite works of art.
The ground material might be of silk, or satin, and couched gold thread was generally used for backgrounds, with figures worked in coloured silks in a fine split or satin stitches which were varied in direction to give an illusion of modelling. Every detail was executed with an astonishing miniscule perfection. Stylistically the embroideries are closely related to contemporary Early Russian manuscript illuminations and in some instances the designs were provided by manuscript illuminators.
The Zagorsk collection provide a vivid idea of the stylistic evolution which ecclesiastical and ornamental embroidery underwent over the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. With its more than two hundred items of high artistic quality, the collection is perhaps one of the best of this type in the Soviet Union. It is remarkable for historical scope, as it took shape and grew all the time during which the Trinity-Sergjus Monastery received rich donations. On display are numerous exactly dated pieces of embroidery produced at well-equipped Moscow workshops, and the surviving Monastery Inventories and Books of Donations cover the period from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. The layout of the collection enables to trace chronologically the history of Russian embroidery over a period of three hundred years, beginning from the fifteenth century.
The fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries were the heyday of Russian decorative arts. Under the influence of icon painting a greater prominence was given to ecclesiastical embroidery. The best works show the prevalence of figure subjects with a psychological insight and response to personality. The earlier examples are rather on severe side with elongated ascetic-looking figures of saints. Later a much more elaborate style was developed: figures are more numerous and crowded and the overall patterns are more closely integrated. On the icon-cloth given by Sophia Paleologus in 1499, the Trinity and eleven biblical scenes and images of saints are represented on the borders, while the interstices are filled with feathered seraphim. Ornamental compositions of the period are, on the contrary, very modest. Decorative motifs, such as architectural coulisses, were adopted from contemporaneous architectural styles. The subsequent years were marked by the rise of applied arts. Towards from rchitecrural styles. The subsequent by the rise of applied arts. Towards
the mid-sixteenth century the decoration grew so profuse that it began to dominate the figures. Only due to the skilled craftsmen of the time these decorative components and figure subjects were held into equilibrium. A number of fine and characteristic samples of sixteenth century embroidery illustrates the elaborate style that prevail in the rich homes of the contemporary Russian society. Ornamentation was largely based on floral and folio-geometricized patterns (interlacing stems, a Tree-of-Life motif, rotating rosettes, lozenges, etc.) which have their origins in most ancient times. Towards the late sixteenth century, embroidery becomes patently decorative. In the seventeenth century, which was the final stage of medieval Russian embroidery, its style is increasingly dominated by sumptuous decorativeness. Ecclesiastical embroidery, developing into an applied art, imitates luxurious icon trimmings; figure subjects, much more coarsely embroidered than hitherto, lose-their former inwardness. Many ecclesiastical vestments and church cloths were executed in a manifestly secular style, with traditional folio-geometricized patterns prevailing in the elaborate orphreys and ornamental borders. The motifs used for decorating chasubles and epitrachelions were standardized — flowers, crowns, stars, crosses — and they were generally cut out and applied to a plain velvet ground. The backgrounds were usually heavily worked in gold thread.
Russian medieval embroidery underwent a long evolution. Linked basically with ancient folk traditions, it also was influenced by Byzantine, Oriental and European arts. Skilful craftsmen, who combined traditional and adopted elements into an integral whole, created brilliant craft with rich and profound content.
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