Christian Icons in Byzantine Egypt
St Michael Angel icon in Byzantine Egypt, Christian concepts and ideals became steadily integrated into the daily lives of its citizens. Evidence supporting this includes a number of encaustic panel paintings unearthed, depicting early Christian symbols and imagery especially…
Byzantine Christian Angels.
In Medieval times however, encaustic reliefs were typically associated with portable objects. Since Christian missionaries were constantly traveling, they required smaller objects to convey their message to the public. These objects came to be known as icons – the word itself literally meaning “image.” Some of the earliest examples of Byzantine Christian Angels were encaustic reliefs. Although encaustic panel paintings were easily portable, they often became damaged in hot weather. Soaring temperatures could easily melt the wax and destroy the image on the wooden panel.
Angel Images on Byzantine Artifacts
Representations of Byzantine Christian Angels in early Christian art can be traced back to 325 A.D., when they officially were deemed dogma by the Council of Nicaea. Archangels gained popularity in the Eastern Roman Empire, but were not received the same by the West. During the Middle Ages, theologians began to organize a classification system – diving angels into separate categories according to rank. Some of these categories include: Seraphim, Cherubim, Archangels and Angels. Angels became a popular motif on wooden encaustic panel icons. They were easily recognizable; therefore deeming them a powerful Christian image.
The appearance of angels is entirely conventional. Angels are thought to be spiritual beings, only consisting of matter. In art however, they are usually portrayed as human beings. In order to differentiate them from humans, angels were often depicted in movement. Other time, they were shown wearing armor.
Their facial features allude to ethereal origins. Byzantine Christian icons of angels are always depicted young and handsome.As wars and controversy broke out , their portrayal dress became more military like. Although angels are typically referred to as male, their sex and gender have been debated throughout the history of the church. In some texts, they are stated to be androgynous in nature.
Iconography and Meditation is an introduction to Icon Painting and their Secret Techniques revealed through the practice. This book reads as a step-by-step guide for how to create your own icon. The 12-step sequence is a simplified road map for proceeding from the vision of creation. Suggested meditations accompanied every step to focus the mind with more awareness of who we are painting. However, while easy to follow detailed instructions about technique and materials, my primary aim is to emphasize the mystical experience within the process itself. The painter or writer of an icon will come to better understand the two natures of Christ–flesh and spirit. The process reveals the mystery, and meditation enhances the technique.
St. Athanasius says: “Christ became man, that man might become God.” This simple statement has intrigued and confounded me my whole adult life. Eight words explain perfectly the relationship of flesh and spirit and how they are inextricably connected. This mystical concept has been inspirational and takes a lifetime to grasp. Then, I stumbled into icon painting with egg tempera and earth pigments.
Discovering Organic Egg Tempera and its Secret Techniques inspired my painting icons. For three decades, I have experimented with different prayer styles and formats. Saints and theologians inspired my first experiences of meditation, sitting for long periods of time in silence. The awareness of simplicity, of just breathing as a miraculous thing, happening in all of us since living things have existed on the planet, made a powerful impression upon me. Through meditating of an icon image, I found a new way to commune with the Spirit, painting with Mother Earth using egg tempera.
If you can grasp the inter-relationship of flesh and spirit in any one aspect of your life, then it is possible to see it run like an electrical current throughout all of life.
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