What is the reason for saints or angels to have covered secret hands in iconography? It is a puzzling for many people. In byzantine style iconography, the concept is to emphasize a sacred interaction or offering. When seen in icons of the Baptism of Jesus, they might think that the angels are carrying towels to dry Jesus off. It looks like Jesus has just came wet from a bath. The hand symbols meaning is contained in the message when they use secret hands in iconography as a sign of reverence and humility.
In practice at court, a servant’s hands were covered when objects were handed to or received from emperors, Kings, or other royalty. You, as a commoner, could not mix or commune with those outside your station or position. When the Roman Emperor Julian was giving rewards to some men called to the palace, one of them reached out to take the gift with bare hands. Julian then remarked that the men knew how to take, but not how to receive. He used his bare hands, not covered hands in respect.
Secret Hands in Iconography is Symbolic of Power
It was a symbolic barrier between the Emperor and those approaching him. The impression given is that anything the Emperor touched became “sacred”. Veiled hands or covered hands in iconography emphasize how humanity touches or approaches the divine. The visual reference highlights respect for what we do not own and did not create. We see echoes of the practice in the Eucharist.
Reverence with secret Hands in Iconography Symbolism
They are signs of reverence and humility
Artists paint secret hands in iconography symbolism to show reverence. This image is curious … Jesus holding his own divine image. Legend says Jesus sent King Abgar a beautiful letter praising His faith as a ruler. Jesus promised to send His disciple in order to heal him from the leprosy and instruct him in salvation. After this, the Lord called for water and a towel. He wiped His face, rubbing with the towel, and on it was impressed His Divine Image. The towel and the letter the Savior sent with Ananias to Edessa. With thanksgiving, Abgar received the sacred object and received healing, but a small portion, only a trace, remained of the terrible disease on his face until the arrival of the promised Disciple of the Lord.
The story behind the image is a magnificent example of how we transfer our own image onto created objects. And, we hold in our own sacred hands the essence of our self as an offering to those around us. Might we use the idea to infer reverence and humility as we deal with our sacred planet? https://www.millericons.com/
NEW discussion about secret hands in iconography symbolism/ Veiled hands in iconography. Join our Facebook Group Conversations about prayer and iconography Anyone please comment about early iconographers and their message for why painted Jesus Christs hands as he held his mother? HOLDING the sacred feminine. LIFE In CHRIST My latest book explaining image and the visual language of Iconography.