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Notes on the Sanctuary Curtain: Symbolisms and Iconographies in the Greek Church

Παρατηρήσεις πάνω στα Πετάσματα Ωραίας Πύλης: Συμβολισμοί και Εικονογραφία στην Ελληνική Εκκλησία
Voiles du Bêma orthodoxe‑grecs d’époque ottomane : symbolismes et iconographie dans l'Église grecque
Nikolaos Vryzidis et Elena Papastavrou

Résumés

La présente étude a comme but d’examiner un secteur d’art religieux orthodoxe grec de la période ottomane relativement inconnu en utilisant des exemples représentatifs. Le Bêma se trouve au milieu de l’iconostase qui sépare le chœur du naos. L’étude s’occupe, d’abord, des valeurs symboliques attachées au Bêma et au Voile et, ensuite, d’une recherche des textiles utilisés dans ce lieu sacré. Elle se divise en deux parties : une première partie est dédiée aux voiles du Bêma brodés selon la tradition byzantine et une seconde, à ceux faits de tissus de base οttomans et safavides et utilisés par l’Église orthodoxe grecque. Une des contributions de cette étude consiste à ce qu’elle découvre les usages parallèles des voiles du Bêma qui appartiennent à des cultures différentes. En fait, ces usages parallèles mettent en valeur un autre aspect de l’osmose entre la tradition byzantine et divers éléments de cultures orientales durant l’époque ottomane.

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Texte intégral

The authors would like to thank Aikaterini Dellaporta, Maria Borboudaki and Daphne Filiou from the Byzantine and Christian Museum; Anna Ballian, Anastasia Drandaki, Mina Moraitou and Mara Verykokou from the Benaki Museum; Bojan Miljkovic of the Serbian Academy; John Bennett of the British School at Athens; the monks of Simonopetra Monastery; Father Theophanis of Stavronikita Monastery.

Introduction: The Symbolism of the Sanctuary Door

  • 1  See principally Grabar, 1961, p. 13‑22; Chatzidakis, 1966, p. 326‑353; Walter, 1993, p. 203‑228; L(...)
  • 2  Read the monograph by StoufiPoulimenou, 1999.
  • 3  For an interesting analysis of the evolution of the sanctuary screen during the Late Byzantine per (...)

1In later Byzantine churches the sanctuary curtain comprises part of the icon screen (templon/iconostasis), which shields the altar from the congregation’s view.1 This screen developed from a low barrier in the churches of the Early Christian era,2 before finally crystallizing as a taller screen in the late Byzantine period.3 This enclosure and its veiled portal were inspired by two Jewish monuments of the Old Testament, the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon, which were divided between the areas known as the Holy of Holies and Greater House by means of a curtain; it is linked also to the expressions of Christian belief that the invisible God had been revealed to the world through paradoxical concealment behind a veil of flesh. Thus, the sanctuary curtain is symbolically connected to the most sacred part of the Byzantine church, the sanctuary, which in turn symbolically leads to Heaven. It is also related to the notions of the door and the veil. In the first part of this paper we analyse this symbolism.

The Sanctuary

  • 4  Eusebius of Caesaria, PG. 20, col. 877-880; Dionysius the Areopagite, PG. 3, col. 137A-C, 425C and (...)
  • 5  Gregory of Nazianzus, PG. 37, col. 1232-1233: «Βῆμα τόδ’ ἀγγελικῇ συχοροστασίησι τεθηλὸς /Κιγκλίδα (...)
  • 6  Gregory of Nazianzus, PG. 35, col. 988C: «… καὶ τῆς κατὰ σῶμα καὶ ψυχὴν συζυγίας καὶ διαζεύξεως, κ (...)
  • 7  See also Dionysius the Areopagite, PG. 3, 137AC, 425C and 445C; Symeon of Thessalonica, PG. 155, c (...)
  • 8  StoufiPoulimenou, 1999, p. 128.
  • 9  Hebrews 8, 2‑3. “…a minister (=Christ) in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by m (...)
  • 10  For the Incarnation, see Gregory of Nyssa, PG 44, col. 380‑385; on Ecclesia, see, PG. 1, col. 660D (...)
  • 11  Clement of Alexandria, PG. 9, col. 57A sq; John Chrysostom, PG. 63, col. 117α’: «λέγει δὲ Ἅγια τῶν (...)
  • 12  John Chrysostom, PG. 63, col. 117α’. Theodoretof Cyrus, PG. 80, col. 281A-B: «ἐν μέσῳ δὲ τὸ καταπέ (...)
  • 13  John Chrysostom, PG. 49, col. 357ε’: «Εἰ τοίνυν, ἐν τῷ καιρῶ τῆς Σκηνοπηγίας εἰσέρχεται εἰς τὰ ἅγι (...)

2The Church is correlated to the universe in Christian thought and consists of symbols representing both the intelligible and sensible worlds.4 The invisible heavenly world is symbolised by the sanctuary whereas the rest of the church represents the sensible, earthly realm. As a barrier, the icon screen represents the limits of these separate worlds.5 However, these two spheres are in conjunction (συζυγία or σύζευξη) and lead to the unity of the human body and soul, as well as to the unity of the militant and the triumphant Church.6 Such symbolic meaning dominated the thought of Greek theologians in early Christian times.7 The Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon hold an important place in theological literature on typology and allegory.8 A correlation was made between the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies of the Jewish temple: for Apostle Paul, the Tabernacle prefigured the true tent set up, not by man, but by God.9 Theological approaches underline the typological interpretation of the tent and its symbolic connection with the Incarnation and Church (Ecclesia).10 Just as the Holy of Holies was accessible only to the archpriest, the sanctuary was accessible principally to the priests and the bishop. Both places have allegorical connections with the heavenly and intelligible world, whereas the rest of the temple or church symbolises the earthly and sensitive reality of this world.11 Like the veil that separated the temple into its two parts allegorically representing the firmament, the church icon screen represents the limit of two worlds, one of the deity and the other of humans.12 Τhe Holy of Holies is the place of epiphany and of the revelation of the Divine Will.13 Thus, from the early Christian era until the later Byzantine period, the sanctuary (ιερόν βήμα), and the cupola were seen by the Church Fathers as symbolic of the heavenly realms above the firmament.

The Door and the Veil

  • 14  Ezekiel 44, 2: “… This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by i (...)
  • 15  Kittel, 1938, p. 630.
  • 16  On the typological meaning of the veil and on its symbolism in the iconography of the Mother of Go (...)
  • 17  Exodus, 26, 31‑35; 27, 21; 30, 6; 35, 12; 37, 3 ff; Leviticus, 4, 6, 17; 16, 2, 12‑15; 21, 23; 24, (...)
  • 18  Exodus, 26, 3; 35, 15; 37, 5 ff; 38, 18; 39, 4 ff; 40, 5; Numbers, 3, 10 ff; 4, 32; 18, 7; 3 Roman (...)
  • 19  Matthew 15:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.
  • 20  Theodoret of Cyrus, PG. 80, col. 281A-B: «ἐν μέσῳ…τὸ καταπέτασμα διατείνας ἐν τύπῳ τοῦ στερεώματος (...)
  • 21  John Chrysostom, PG. 12, col. 152A; Cosma Indicopleustes, PG. 88, col. 56D: «…τὴν σκηνὴν ἤν καὶ δι (...)
  • 22  Proclus of Constantinople, PG. 85, col. 433B: «…τὸ τῆς σαρκὸς καταπέτασμα περιβαλλόμενος [sc. ὁ Χρ (...)
  • 23  Wenschkewitz, 1932, p. 207.
  • 24  Exodus, 40:1‑5, 9‑10, 16, 34‑35.
  • 25  Read Koutloumousianos, 1972; Mouriki, 1970, p. 225.
  • 26  For example, see the theotokion of the 4th Ode of the Matins on the day of the Nativity of Virgin (...)

3The curtain on the icon screen’s sanctuary door is related also to two other notions discussed within a theological hermeneutic framework: the “door” and the “veil”. Within that context, Christ is the “door” through which the faithful enters into life: «Ἐγὼ εἰμὶ ἡ θύρα. Δι’ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ σωθήσεται» (“I am the door; if anyone enters through me, he will be saved”: John, 10:9). The idea of the “closed door” is correlated with the impenetrable veil of Holy of Holies,14 both of which are also metaphors for the Virgin Mary’s purity. Since Antiquity, the veil has had a very rich allegorical interpretation in connection with religious rites. The Greek words καταπέτασμα or παραπέτασμα, and the Latin word “velum” generally refer to a curtain extended to a threshold, placed before a window, or on a wall.15 “Velum” more precisely denotes the curtain of a temple used to shield the Divine image, opened only on the occasion of the great feasts. Associations of cult and religion in relation to the veil continue to exist in the Christian Church and its arts.16 In the Old Testament the velum had different connotations: first, it signified the veil in the aforementioned tent between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the space;17 secondly, it recalled the curtain (screen) for the gate of the court of the tabernacle.18 On the other hand, in the New Testament the veil of the temple is torn apart the moment Christ died.19 Thus, the idea that the sacrifice of Christ paved the way for the Holy of the Holies is connected with this event. Theologians comparing the earthly temple to the archetypical heavenly one recall that the Great Priest, meaning Christ, went through the veil and, with Him, the rest of mankind.20 Moreover, like the veil and firmament symbolically separating heaven from the earth, Moses separated the Temple using a veil.21 For many exegetes the veil represents the flesh of Christ, His human nature, which is directly connected with the Mother of God.22 It is argued also, in relation to the terrestrial existence of Christ, that there is a dual meaning: on one hand, the veil is situated between the Holy of Holies and the commune in the holy part of the church; on the other hand, the notion that the believer can be brought into the Holy of Holies is the idea that introduced the veil into the liturgy.23 Within the framework of theological interpretations concerning the veil, it is useful to keep in mind that the biblical passages regarding the Tabernacle and the objects that were preserved in it represent typological images of the Mother of God. It is indicative that during the annual Vespers of the Presentation of Mary in the temple, held on 21 November, a passage from Exodus is read,24 which concerns the Tabernacle and the objects that were inside it.25 Additionally, there are innumerable liturgical hymns that insist on the same idea.26

  • 27  StoufiPoulimenou, 1999, p. 132‑142.
  • 28  On the multiple uses of curtains in the Latin West read MartinianiReber, 1999, p. 289‑305.
  • 29  To the Hebrews, 10: 19‑23.
  • 30  Basil, PG. 31, col. 197.
  • 31  Gregory of Nazianzus, PG. 36, col. 564.
  • 32  John Chrysostom, PG. 63, col. 117.
  • 33  Ibid., col. 139.
  • 34  StoufiPoulimenou, 1999, p. 136 & 141‑2. There is also the “prayer of the veil” which antecedes th (...)
  • 35  These views are analyzed in his works Dialogue against Heresies and Interpretation of the Christia (...)
  • 36  In the Bible, it is in the sanctuary that Zacharias had received the appearance of Gabriel announc (...)
  • 37  Papastavrou, 2007, p. 330‑331; Constas, 2003, p. 315‑358; id. 1995, p. 169‑194; Evangelatou, 2003, (...)
  • 38  Sotiriou & Sotiriou, 1958, Fig. 27: “…τίς οὐ κλονεῖται καὶ φοβεῖται καὶ τρέμει ἐπὶ ξύλου σὶ κρεμάμ (...)

4Before being adapted within a Christian context in churches, veils were lavishly used in both religious and secular Jewish and Greco‑Roman architecture, and in the worship of other mystic cults, for example, that of Mithras.27 Since the second half of the fourth century, veils were employed to shield the sanctuary from the view of the people. They are first known to have been used in fourth‑century Eastern Christian churches in Cappadocia, Syria, Antioch and Alexandria, to name a few places. During the fifth century, veils were also in use in Constantinople and Greece, whereas in the sixth century their use diffused into Illyricum, Italy,28 and Asia Minor. Their use in front of the sanctuary was most probably to aid in the Faithfull’s spiritual preparation by helping prepare them to receive the revelation of the mystery of the Divine Eucharist. For Apostle Paul the symbolic meaning of the sanctuary veil was connected with the Incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.29 The same meaning is attributed by the Church Fathers, Basil,30 Gregory,31 and Chrysostom.32 It is interesting that the third of these goes further, saying: ‘when Christ’s flesh rose (in the Ascension), at that moment the heavens were revealed’.33 These theological views obviously influenced the liturgical function of veils, as part of the time they must remain extended and the rest of the time they must be lifted. 34 During the Palaiologan period, when the iconostasis made its first appearance as a high screen in front of the sanctuary, the writings of Symeon of Thessaloniki, whose views emanate from the interpretations of the Early Christian Fathers, are particularly interesting. Symeon emphasised the relation of the sanctuary door’s veil with the Incarnation and the Sacrament, where he found parallel symbolism between the monumental decoration and the veil of the sanctuary.35 In church iconography it is frequently the case that the Incarnation (that is, the Annunciation) marks the entrance to the sanctuary: most of the time it is depicted on the eastern wall over the arc of the apsis and on the iconostasis door. This is because the sanctuary is the place of Epiphany, where the Incarnation, the first presence of Christ on Earth, is prolonged through the sacrament of the Eucharist, via the intercession of the Holy Spirit.36 These symbolic meanings are connected with the sanctuary curtain and, of course, with the Virgin Mary. It is not pure coincidence that the Mother of God is spinning purple silk yarn for the Temple’s veil at the very moment of the Annunciation.37 In hymnography, it is symbolically used in parallel with the chiton (garment), another metaphor for the human nature of Christ. It is important to note an inscription on a ninth‑century icon of the Crucifixion in Sinai, which reads “who is not troubled, and scared, and who is not trembling, when he sees you, O Lord, hanging on the wood, Thy who have torn apart the garment of death and have dressed in the garment of eternity…”38

Iconography in Embroideries of Byzantine Tradition

  • 39  Woodfin, 2011, p. 382 and Fig. 17; Vassilaki, 2008, p. 228.

5The symbolic values connected with sanctuary veils also impact upon their embroidered or woven decoration, known mostly through post-Byzantine objects as extant Byzantine sanctuary curtains are very rare. In the first place, there are compositions that stress the liturgical character of the object. Other scenes are related to the Mother of God or a saint, depending on the feast or the sacred person to whom the church is dedicated. Indicative of its liturgical or sacramental value is the embroidered sanctuary curtain at Hilandar Monastery (1398‑9). It is a precious artefact, and regal donation by Helena Uglješa of Serres, on which Christ as Archpriest is depicted standing, facing the viewer frontally with both arms extended in a sign of blessing (Fig. 1).39

Figure 1. Sanctuary curtain, Christ as Archpriest, 1398‑1399, Hilandar Monastery, Mount Athos

Figure 1. Sanctuary curtain, Christ as Archpriest, 1398‑1399, Hilandar Monastery, Mount Athos

Image courtesy of Bojan Miljkovic (photographer: Branislav Strugar)

  • 40  Vassilaki, 2012, p. 13‑20.
  • 41  Woodfin, 2011, p. 382.

6Christ is flanked by two hierarchs holding open scrolls, Saints Basil and John Chrysostom (identified according to their physiognomic traits), and by two angels depicted slightly to the rear, holding rhipidia. Christ is dressed as a patriarch in a short‑sleeved sakkos and a crossed stole, or omophorion, which is a bishop’s attribute.40 The two saints wear bishop’s garments in the form of the phelonion and omophorion, but they appear smaller in size and are depicted in a three-quarter profile as they turn towards the Lord, a pose that could be attributed to the role of bishops assisting a patriarch at a Divine Liturgy. On the other hand, the angels, like deacons, wave liturgical fans. On this matter Warren Woodfin has observed: “…when the curtain was drawn aside in the course of the liturgy, it would have revealed the human celebrant standing in Christ’s place at the altar table”.41

  • 42  Chatzoulis, 2011, p. 965‑990.
  • 43  On the theme of the Christ‑Angel, see Amann, 1938, p. 12‑156; Florovskij, 1950, p. 229‑230; Meyend (...)
  • 44  For example, the fifth‑century mosaic of Osios David. For relevant Byzantine paintings see the fol (...)
  • 45  Monastery of Barlaam in Meteora, Monastery of Diliou, (LivaXanthaki, 1980, p. 18); Monastery of P (...)
  • 46  For example: the epigonation kept in the Monastery of Chrysopege, see Chania, 2006, p. 11; for the (...)

7The themes that occur during the post‑Byzantine period mostly show Christ standing as Archpriest, coming out the chalice, or as Christ‑Angel. As a matter of fact, in the Cathedral of Kastoria is a curtain with the Christ‑Angel depicted, signed by famous Constantinopolitan embroiderer, Despineta tou Argyri, in 1692.42 As is well-known, this theme is related to Old Testament texts, in which, through patristic interpretations and hymnography, the Christ‑Angel can be read as a symbol of salvation, as a Messiah‑Angel of the Divine Word, as a representation of the resurrection of the divinised human, and, finally, as the Church and the notion of the Eucharist.43 The iconographic theme of Christ‑Angel appears in prophetic visions of Early Christian and Byzantine art,44 and is expanded in post‑Byzantine monumental art in Greece, Russia and Romania.45 The same theme can be seen on many priests’ garments.46 As a final example of the representation of liturgical themes, we might refer to the veil decorated with Christ in the Chalice surrounded by seraphs, the sun, the moon and stars, in the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens, attributable to nineteenth‑century Constantinople (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Sanctuary curtain, Christ coming out of the Chalice, ca. 1800, Constantinopolitan workshop

Figure 2. Sanctuary curtain, Christ coming out of the Chalice, ca. 1800, Constantinopolitan workshop

© Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 1708, photographer: Nikos Mylonas)

  • 47  Karakatsanis, 1997, cat. 11.31.

8To the category of curtains with scenes of the Twelve Feasts of the liturgical year (Dodekaorton) belongs an example with the Nativity represented on it, made by the monk Kallinikos and dated 1627, kept in Simonopetra. The theme comes as no surprise as the Athonite monastery is dedicated to the Nativity (Fig. 3).47

Figure 3. Sanctuary curtain, the Nativity, 1627, made by monk Kallinikos

Figure 3. Sanctuary curtain, the Nativity, 1627, made by monk Kallinikos

© Simonopetra Monastery, Mount Athos

  • 48  Papastavrou & Filiou, 2016, p. 543‑555; Papastavrou & Filiou, 2012, p. 301‑314.

9Another curtain of the nineteenth century, this time with the Hypapante embroidered by Kokona tou Rologa, and very likely a commission of the monks of the Hypapante Monastery at Naoussa around 1812, is found in the Byzantine and Christian Museum (Fig. 4).48

Figure 4. Sanctuary curtain, the Presentation to the Temple, ca. 1812‑1819, Constantinopolitan workshop, signed by Kokona of Rologa, from the Monastery of the Hypapante (Naoussa)

Figure 4. Sanctuary curtain, the Presentation to the Temple, ca. 1812‑1819, Constantinopolitan workshop, signed by Kokona of Rologa, from the Monastery of the Hypapante (Naoussa)

© Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 21055, photographer: Charis Psychopaidi)

10Furthermore, the same museum boasts a curtain with the Baptism (Fig. 5), a scene obviously related to the Monastery of Saint John in Serres, from which the piece originated.

Figure 5. Sanctuary curtain, The Baptism, nineteenth century, from the Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner (Serres)

Figure 5. Sanctuary curtain, The Baptism, nineteenth century, from the Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner (Serres)

© Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 21057)

  • 49  Cormack & Vassilaki, 2008, cat. 180.
  • 50  On the iconography of the winged Saint John the Baptist, see Yandim, 2010, p. 626‑633.

11Figures of saints decorating curtains appear from the Early Christian period, as proved by the famous fifth‑century Coptic veil in the Benaki Museum.49 Another example is a seventeenth‑century representation of Saint John the Baptist standing in a frontal position on another veil of the Byzantine and Christian Museum (Fig. 6).50

Figure 6. Sanctuary curtain, Saint John the Baptist, seventeenth century, from Skiathos

Figure 6. Sanctuary curtain, Saint John the Baptist, seventeenth century, from Skiathos

© Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 21055, photographer: Nikos Mylonas)

12Another interesting representation of a saint in frontal position comes from Stavronikita Monastery: it is a seventeenth‑century embroidery of Saint Nikolaos, the monastery’s patron saint, framed by rich Ottoman floral ornament (Fig. 7).

Figure 7. Sanctuary curtain, Saint Nikolaos, seventeenth century, Asia Minor workshop (?)

Figure 7. Sanctuary curtain, Saint Nikolaos, seventeenth century, Asia Minor workshop (?)

©Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos

  • 51  See Karakatsanis, 1997, cat. 11.25; Patrinelis, Karakatsani & Theochari, 1974, p. 198‑199.

13It has been attributed by Maria Theochari to an Asia Minor workshop.51

Ottoman and Iranian Textiles as Sanctuary Curtains

  • 52  On the atmosphere of change in ecclesiastical art of Ottoman Balkans and Anatolia see Ballian, 198 (...)

14Apart from the embroidered curtains produced by workshops that followed the Byzantine tradition, the Greek Church used textiles created according to other traditions. The Greek Church’s receptivity to foreign imports and its adoption of contemporary trends was often accompanied by a process of filtering, which ensured the compatibility of these objects to its religious dogma, as we will see from the following analysis. Moreover, the examples discussed should be viewed within the frame of the acculturation that took place after the conquest of Constantinople and the evolution of ecclesiastical aesthetics. Ecclesiastical material culture underwent a transformation as new elements melded with Byzantine tradition: the Church patronised arts associated with the court, such as Iznik ceramics; moreover, Ottoman motifs were incorporated into the decorative vocabulary of Greek artisans.52 Probably a major difference between Iznik for example, which had solely a decorative purpose, and the sanctuary curtains is that the latter were charged with an especially sacred meaning, as thoroughly explained earlier in this article. These curtains conveyed far more complex theological meanings than many other objects of the period, and went way beyond the aesthetic value that colourful tiles used as wallpaper had. Therefore, beyond notions of shared culture between Christians and Muslims the curtains to be discussed reveal the process of filtering in relation to the symbolism of the sanctuary door.

  • 53  This is one of the relatively few surviving pieces from an Anatolian monastery accompanied by offi (...)

15The splendid Safavid curtain from the Monastery of Saint Chariton, nearby Sille in Ikonion (Konya), is an interesting case study from this perspective (Fig. 8).53

Figure 8. Sanctuary curtain, early seventeenth century, Safavid silk, from the Monastery of Saint Chariton in Sille

Figure 8. Sanctuary curtain, early seventeenth century, Safavid silk, from the Monastery of Saint Chariton in Sille

© Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 34605, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)

  • 54  Stanley, RosserOwen & Vernoit, 2004, p. 71 and pl. 85. For mihrab‑style arches in Persian prayer (...)
  • 55  One should not forget, however, the monastery’s relationship with the Mevlevi Sufi order and the i (...)
  • 56  The hanging is discussed in Vryzidis, 2015, p. 193‑204.
  • 57  On the multiple Christian symbolisms conveyed by the Tree (“δέντρο”) see Lampe, 1961, p. 336. Papa (...)
  • 58  Velmans,1968, Fig. 2.

16The mihrab‑style arch and the central floral composition recall other well-known Persian hangings produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.54 The most striking difference between such hangings and the example in discussion is its depiction of three pairs of birds (represented facing each other) around the central floral composition; representations of animate beings are limited to the discreet presence of butterflies in the other hangings. Despite the mihrab‑style niche it seems highly improbable that in an Islamic context such a hanging, with the birds so prominent, would have had a religious use.55 However, within a Christian context the decorative composition does not seem problematic at all. While exotic in its aesthetic, the Sille curtain does recall earlier forms and decorative programs quite popular in Byzantine ecclesiastic art; probably leaning on the symbolism of birds in Byzantine art and religious thought.56 For example, this curtain seems to recall the Tree of Life, an iconographic theme suitable for the sanctuary door.57 This is especially true in relation to the pairs of birds depicted approaching the Tree, which could be interpreted as a metaphor for the believers coming to the Church and receiving Eucharist. The Tree and the Fountain of Life convey the same symbolism and reference to Christ and his teachings, which are spread via the Church, like the perfume of flowers on a tree.58 Hence, it seems that via the active reception and interpretation of this Safavid curtain a new iconographic “type” for sanctuary curtains was created. Another interesting case featuring representations of birds is an eighteenth‑century embroidered curtain from Argyroupolis (Gümüşhane) (Fig. 9).

Figure 9. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth century, from Argyroupoli/Gümüşhane

Figure 9. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth century, from Argyroupoli/Gümüşhane

© Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33731, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)

  • 59  On the Greek Church’s preference for silks patterned with animal motifs, which could be symbolical (...)

17Although it largely deconstructs and reconfigures standard motifs from Ottoman silks and velvets, it features also two pairs of self-facing birds (Fig. 10). In this case, the birds may again loosely convey Christian symbolism.59

Figure 10. Detail: paired birds

Figure 10. Detail: paired birds
  • 60  Bilgi & Zanbak, 2012,p. 25‑26. For prayer rugs at the Topkapı collection see Rogers & Tezcan, Deli (...)
  • 61  The vase with flowers motif appears very often in Annunciation scenes, sporadically throughout the (...)

18Another type of drapery for sanctuary doors in which a similar encounter of Christian and Islamic art occurs are those with the same or very similar compositions found in contemporary Ottoman prayer mats. Most of these mats feature an arch or arches supported by colonnades, representing a mosque prayer niche, or mihrab.60 An important piece, probably dating to the nineteenth century, comes from a Greek church in Caesarea (Kayseri). It depicts an arch inside of which there is a representation of a church, the architecture of which seems more Armenian (especially its towers) than Greek. Underneath there is a vase with flowers (Fig. 11).61

Figure 11. Sanctuary curtain, nineteenth century, from Caesarea/Kayseri

Figure 11. Sanctuary curtain, nineteenth century, from Caesarea/Kayseri

© Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33732, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)

  • 62  For examples of Ottoman Baroque floral decoration on these types of prayer mats/hangings, see Bilg(...)
  • 63  Indicative of the flexibility of architectural representations is a prayer mat from the Sadberk Ha (...)
  • 64  Mann, 1982, p. 158‑159; Juhasz, 1990, pl. 20b ; Yaniv, 2019, p. 193‑252.
  • 65  On Ottoman Jewish acculturation as reflected on its ceremonial art, read Mann, 1994, p. 559‑573.

19The rest of the composition is filled with typical Ottoman baroque stems and floral spirals.62 This drape strongly recalls those Islamic prayer mats on which the central representation is that of a mosque.63 This probably indicates that the artisans of that time had standard compositions and designs which could easily be adapted to the needs of different clienteles. Also, other religious communities could buy textiles destined for an “Islamic” use and adapt them via necessary additions. An example indicative of this process is an eighteenth‑century Ottoman Torah Ark Curtain (parochet) now at the Jewish Museum of New York (inv.no. S4), featuring a composition similar in its logic.64 Despite the fact that the central motif is a mosque, this object was deemed fit for use in a synagogue through just the addition of an inscription in Hebrew and a small apotropaic hamsa (hand‑shaped sign). The floral decoration is again quite typical of Ottoman Baroque style.65

20Another sanctuary curtain from Anatolia features Christ coming out of the chalice in what appears to be a “Christianizing” addition (Fig. 12).

Figure 12. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth/nineteenth century, probably an embroidered prayer mat with the addition of Christ coming out of the Chalice, from Anatolia

Figure 12. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth/nineteenth century, probably an embroidered prayer mat with the addition of Christ coming out of the Chalice, from Anatolia

© Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33789, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)

  • 66  A similar practice can be seen in the eighteenth‑century Armenian Holy Altar Curtain from the Kalf (...)
  • 67  Vryzidis, 2015, p. 215‑224; Papastavrou & Vryzidis, 2018, p. 265‑269.

21When examining this curtain, it becomes clear that that the embroidered Christ was not part of the original object.66 It again features an arch similar to those depicted on contemporary prayer mats, while the decoration is typical of Ottoman Baroque. An interesting element is the peacock tail motif inserted into the frame, recalling aniconic motifs from the animal kingdom, so dear to the Ottomans. In this case, it is the “Christianizing” addition that makes this mat suitable for ecclesiastic use.67 Moreover, the addition is the same iconographic type we see in an already mentioned contemporary drape (Fig. 2). There is therefore considerable overlap in Ottoman and Post‑Byzantine art, strongly indicating cross-cultural fertilization and exemplifying the interpretation of Ottoman and Middle Eastern trends from a Christian point of view.

  • 68  Another hanging featuring baroque columns and a hanging lamp can be found at Panachrantou Monaster (...)

22The final curtain to be discussed features another popular motif: the suspended lamp (Fig. 13).68

Figure 13. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth/nineteenth century, from Anatolia

Figure 13. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth/nineteenth century, from Anatolia

© Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33730, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)

  • 69  The examples in the Topkapı are dated from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century (Tezcan & Okumu (...)
  • 70  Ettinghausen, 1974, cat. 1.
  • 71  Khoury, 1992, p. 15‑22. For the relevant chapter on light in the Qu’ran, see Haleem, 2004, p. 220‑ (...)
  • 72  The lamp continues to be a popular central motif in Ottoman prayer mats until the twentieth centur (...)
  • 73  One of the earliest datable Ottoman‑made parochets is in the Lvov synagogue in Ukraine, originally (...)
  • 74  Juhasz, 1990, p. 97‑98. Also see Yaniv, 2009, p. 205‑222, esp. Fig. 143.

23Islamic prayer rugs and mats featuring variations of the suspended lamp as the central motif were very popular at the Ottoman court.69 The most famous example is a sixteenth‑century prayer rug in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, reputed to have been produced by a court workshop. Its composition displays patterned columns supporting three arches, with a mosque lamp hanging in the centre.70 In Islamic iconography, the lamp is symbolic of God’s radiance.71 In an eighteenth‑century Ottoman sitarah at the Ashmolean Museum the lamp is associated with an embroidered inscription from the surat al nur (Quran 29:35), “God is the light of the Heavens and Earth”.72 In Ottoman synagogues, we then see the same type of hangings featuring the suspended lamp used as parochets.73 In the Jewish tradition, the lamp symbolises the eternal light that hangs in the synagogue, in front of the heikhal (Fig. 14).74

Figure 14. Parochet from Gördes, Manisa (Turkey), late eighteenth century

Figure 14. Parochet from Gördes, Manisa (Turkey), late eighteenth century

© The Jewish Museum, New York (inv. no. F5182)

  • 75  For the Christian symbolisms conveyed by the lamp (Lychnia/Λυχνία) see Lampe, 1961, p. 817.
  • 76  Bilgi & Zanbak, 2012, cat. 45. Another hanging of this type, but without a lamp, can be found in t (...)

24The Greek curtain under discussion presents a very typical Ottoman Baroque composition, with a hanging lamp as the most prominent element as it is placed in the centre of the design, framed by colonnades and floral decoration. In the Greek tradition, the lamp can convey so many different meanings relevant to the sanctuary: the Church, the Sanctuary Lamp in the church, Christ’s mercy metaphorically represented as light and the light of God burning heresy.75 Quite similar is also an altar curtain at the Sadberk Hanım Museum, which comes from the Armenian Church of Surp Nişan. Its inscription dates it to 1812, roughly the same date as the Greek piece in discussion.76 In a way, the lamp better indicates how certain motifs that were widespread in the Eastern Mediterranean projected different meanings according to their specific religious context.

Conclusion

25Some aspects of Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical art are marked during the Ottoman period by a certain degree of secularisation and the appropriation of court aesthetic, in order to project social symbolisms. However, in the case of certain liturgical objects like the sanctuary curtains, the mechanism of acculturation seems to take a different path. No doubt, the curtains used follow either the Byzantine tradition or the contemporary Ottoman and Persian trends, two parallel tendencies seen in Early Modern Greek art. The difference is that in the examples discussed here, the projected religious symbolism onto objects foreign to Byzantine tradition seems more important than the social message. The importance of the sanctuary door as a gate to the invisible and heavenly world guaranteed that the curtain resisted secularisation, but not acculturation. On the contrary, its variations vividly illustrate how the dynamic of shared Ottoman culture and fluidity of aesthetics pushed the Greek Church into finding ways of retaining its cultural autonomy via a remarkable process of interpretation.

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Papastavrou Elena & Filiou Daphni, 2015, “Church embroidery in Constantinople during the 19th century: Putting an embroidery by Kokona of Rologa in context”, in StoufiPoulimenou Ioanna et al. (eds.) [ΣτουφήΠουλημενου Ιωάννα], Γ' Επιστημονικό Συμπόσιο Νεοελληνικής Εκκλησιαστικής Τέχνης [3e symposium scientifique de l’Art Religieux Néohellénique], Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών [Université nationale et capodistrienne d’Athènes], Αθήνα [Athènes], p. 543‑555.

Papastavrou Elena & Filiou Daphni, 2016, “On the beginnings of the Constantinopolitan school of embroidery”, Zograf 39, p. 161‑176.

Papastavrou Elena & Filiou Daphni [Παπασταυρου ΄Ελενα & Φιλιου Δάφνη], 2012, «Χρυσοκέντητο Πέτασμα Ωραίας Πύλης της Κοκόνας του Ρολογά από τη συλλογή του Βυζαντινού και Χριστιανικού Μουσείου (αρ. 21055)», [Voile brodé d’or de la Belle Porte de Kokona de Rologa, collection du Musée byzantin et chrétien] in StoufiPoulimenou Ioanna & Mamaloukos Stavros (eds.) [ΣτουφήΠουλημενου Ιωάννα & Μαμαλούκος Σταύρος], ΒΕπιστημονικό Συμπόσιο Νεοελληνικής Εκκλησιαστικής Τέχνης [2e symposium scientifique de l’Art Religieux Néohellénique], Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών [Université nationale et capodistrienne d’Athènes], Αθήνα [Athènes], p. 301‑314.

Papastavrou Elena & Vryzidis Nikolaos, 2018, “Sacred Patchwork: Patterns of Textile Reuse in Greek Vestments and Liturgical Veils during the Ottoman Period”, in Jevtić Ivana & Yalman Suzan (eds.), Spolia Reincarnated: Afterlives of Objects, Materials, and Spaces in Anatolia from Antiquity to the Ottoman Era, ANAMED Publications, Istanbul, p. 259‑286.

Parani Maria, 2019. “Curtains in the Middle and Late Byzantine House”, in Bühl Gudrun & Dospěl Williams Elisabeth (eds.), Catalogue of the Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Collection, Washington D.C. [Online] Available at https://www.doaks.org/resources/textiles/essays/parani, accessed 26 September 2019.

Salkitzoglou Takis [Σαλτιτζογλού Τάκης], 2009, «Η Μονή του Αγίου Χαρίτωνος στη Σύλλη του Ικονίου-Ένας διάλογος Ορθοδοξίας & Ισλάμ στον 13ο αιώνα», [Le monastère de Saint Chariton à Syla d’Iconium : un dialogue entre Orthodoxie et Islam au xiiie siècle] Δελτίον Κέντρου Μικρασιατικών Σπουδών 16 [Bulletin du Centre d’études micrasiatiques 16], p. 119‑164.

Semoglou Athanasios [Σεμογλου Αθανάσιος], 2010, «Χριστὸς Ἐμμανουὴλ καὶ Χριστὸς ὁ τῆς Μεγάλης Βουλῆς Ἄγγελος» [Christ Emmanuel et Christ, Ange de la Grande Assemblée], Βυζαντινά 30, [Byzantines 30], p. 379‑391.

Stankova Lilyana, 2013, “Ottoman Motifs in Christian Art in the Balkans (16th-17th Centuries): Manuscripts and Metalwork”, in Hitzel Frédéric (ed.), 14th International Congress of Turkish Art, Proceedings, Collège de France, Paris, p. 737‑745.

Stankova Lilyana, 2016, “Tradition and innovation in the decorative practices in Christian art of the Balkans, fifteenth through seventeenth centuries” in Hartmuth Maximilian, Dilsiz Ayşe & Wharton Alyson (eds.), Christian Art Under Muslim Rule Proceedings of a Workshop held in Istanbul on May 11/12 2012, Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, Leiden, p. 195‑205.

Theochari Maria [Θεοχαρη Μαρία], 1988, «Χρυσοκέντητα Ἀμφια», in Kominis Athanasios [Κομινης Αθανάσιος] (ed.), Οι Θησαυροί της Μονής Πάτμου [Patmos : les trésors du monastère], Εκδοτική Αθηνών [Éditions d’Athènes], Αθήνα [Athènes], p. 185-217.

Vassilaki Maria, 2012, “Female Piety, Devotion and Patronage: Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina of Ioannina and Helena Uglješa of Serres”, in Spieser Jean‑Michel & Yota Élisabeth (eds.) Donations et Donateurs dans le monde byzantin, Actes du Colloque International de l’Université de Fribourg 1315 mars 2008, éditions Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, p. 221‑234.

Velmans Tania, 2001, « Deux images de la Sagesse divine en Moldavie (Roumanie) », Δελτίον Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρίας  21 [Bulletin de la société d’Archéologie Chrétienne], p. 385‑392.

Velmans Tania, 1968, « L'Iconographie de la “Fontaine de Vie” dans la tradition byzantine à la fin du Moyen Âge », Synthronon 2 (Paris), p. 119‑34.

Vryzidis Nikolaos, 2017, “Towards a History of the Greek hil‘at: An Interweaving of Byzantine and Ottoman Traditions” Convivium: Exchanges and Interactions in the Arts of Medieval Europe, Byzantium, and the Mediterranean 4.2, p. 177‑191.

Vryzidis Nikolaos, 2018a, “Ottoman textiles and Greek clerical vestments: prolegomena on a neglected aspect of ecclesiastical material culture”, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 42.1, p. 92‑114.

Vryzidis Nikolaos, 2018b, “Persian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire: Evidence from Greek Sacristies”, Iran 56.2, p. 228‑236.

Vryzidis Nikolaos, 2020, “Animal motifs on Asian silks used by the Greek Church: A case study of Christian acculturation”, in Vryzidis Nikolaos (ed.), The Hidden Life of Textiles in the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean: Contexts and Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Islamic, Latinate and Eastern Christian Worlds, Turnhout, p. 155‑184.

Walter Christopher, 1993, “A New Look at the Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier”, RÉByz 51, p. 203‑228.

Woodfin Warren, 2011, “Wall, Veil and Body: Textiles and Architecture in the Late Byzantine Church”, in Klein Holger, Ousterhout Robert & Pitarakis Brigitte (eds.), The Kariye Camii Reconsidered, Istanbul Araştırmaları Institüsü, Istanbul, p. 358‑385.

Yandim Sercan, 2010, “The appearance of the winged‑image of St. John the Baptist in the thirteenth‑century Byzantine painting”, in Ödekan Ayla, Akyürek Engin & Necipoğlu Nevra (eds.), First International Byzantine Studies Symposium Proceedings: Change in Byzantine World in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, Vehbi Koç Vakfı, Istanbul, p. 626‑633.

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Notes

1  See principally Grabar, 1961, p. 13‑22; Chatzidakis, 1966, p. 326‑353; Walter, 1993, p. 203‑228; Lidov, 2000. On the theology of the icon screen, see Constas, 2006, p. 162‑183.

2  Read the monograph by StoufiPoulimenou, 1999.

3  For an interesting analysis of the evolution of the sanctuary screen during the Late Byzantine period, see Gerstel, 2006, p. 134‑161. Also see Papademetriou, 2008.

4  Eusebius of Caesaria, PG. 20, col. 877-880; Dionysius the Areopagite, PG. 3, col. 137A-C, 425C and 445C. Also Procopiou, 1980. In this article the abbreviation PG. is used for Migne’s Patrologia Graeca.

5  Gregory of Nazianzus, PG. 37, col. 1232-1233: «Βῆμα τόδ’ ἀγγελικῇ συχοροστασίησι τεθηλὸς /Κιγκλίδα τὴν μέσα τῶν κόσμων δύο, τοῦδε μένοντος/ Τοῦ τε παριπταμένοιο».

6  Gregory of Nazianzus, PG. 35, col. 988C: «… καὶ τῆς κατὰ σῶμα καὶ ψυχὴν συζυγίας καὶ διαζεύξεως, καὶ τῶν κόσμων, τοῦ τε παρόντος καὶ οὐχ ἑστῶτος, καὶ τοῦ νοουμένου καὶ μένοντος».

7  See also Dionysius the Areopagite, PG. 3, 137AC, 425C and 445C; Symeon of Thessalonica, PG. 155, col. 345.

8  StoufiPoulimenou, 1999, p. 128.

9  Hebrews 8, 2‑3. “…a minister (=Christ) in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord”; Hebrews 9, 11‑12: “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is not of this creation) he entered once and for all into the Holy Place taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption’.

10  For the Incarnation, see Gregory of Nyssa, PG 44, col. 380‑385; on Ecclesia, see, PG. 1, col. 660D: «τῇ σκηνῇ τοῦ μαρτυρίου ἥτις ἦν τύπος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας κατὰ πάντα».

11  Clement of Alexandria, PG. 9, col. 57A sq; John Chrysostom, PG. 63, col. 117α’: «λέγει δὲ Ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων τὸν οὐρανόν, τὸ αὐτὸ δὲ καὶ καταπέτασμα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ». Theodoret of Cyrus, PG. 80, col. 281A-B.

12  John Chrysostom, PG. 63, col. 117α’. Theodoretof Cyrus, PG. 80, col. 281A-B: «ἐν μέσῳ δὲ τὸ καταπέτασμα διατείνας, ἐν τύπῳ στερεώματος, διχῇ διεῖλεν αὐτήν, καὶ τὸ μὲν παρὰ τὴν θύραν μέρος ἐκάλεσεν ἅγια. Τὸ δὲ τοῦ καταπετάσματος ἔνδον Ἅγια ἁγίων ὠνόμασεν… οὕτως ἔξω μὲν τοῦ καταπετάσματος εἰσιτὸς ἦν τοῖς ἱερεῦσι. Τὰ δὲ ἔνδον ἄψαυστα ἦν, καὶ ἄδυτα, καὶ ἀνάκτορα». Eusebius of Caesarea, PG. 20, col. 1320B: «μέσος δ’ ἀμφιβέβληται μέγας οὐρανὸς περιπέτασμα κυάνεον, τοὺς ἐκτός, τῶν εἴσω βασιλικῶν οἴκων διεῖργον».

13  John Chrysostom, PG. 49, col. 357ε’: «Εἰ τοίνυν, ἐν τῷ καιρῶ τῆς Σκηνοπηγίας εἰσέρχεται εἰς τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς μόνος, φέρε λοιπὸν ἀποδείξωμεν, ὅτι τότε ὤφθη ὁ ἄγγελος τῷ Ζαχαρία ἡνίκα εἰς τὰ Ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων ἦν…Ὁρᾷς ὅτι ἐσωτέρω τοῦ καταπετάσματος ἦν. Τότε τοίνυν εὐηγγελίσθη».

14  Ezekiel 44, 2: “… This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel has entered by it. Therefore, it shall remain close”; for the exegetic literature on the issue see Hieronymus, Comment, in Ezekiel, PG. 25, col. 430A; Cyril of Jerusalem, PG. 33, col. 725‑770; John Chrysostom, PG. 56, col. 247‑256. See Babić, 1968, p. 146‑151.

15  Kittel, 1938, p. 630.

16  On the typological meaning of the veil and on its symbolism in the iconography of the Mother of God, see: Papastavrou, 1993, p. 141‑169; id. 2007, p. 323‑355. Also see Lidov, 2014b, p. 97‑108; Papastavrou, 1992, p. 22‑24; id. 1995, p. 31‑39. On the Byzantine phenomenon of hangings and textile installations read Lidov, 2014a, p. 40‑57. On the symbolism of curtains in Byzantine culture read Parani, 2019. On textiles as mediators in Byzantine culture read Evangelatou, 2019.

17  Exodus, 26, 31‑35; 27, 21; 30, 6; 35, 12; 37, 3 ff; Leviticus, 4, 6, 17; 16, 2, 12‑15; 21, 23; 24, 3; Numbers 4, 5; 2 Chronicle, 3, 14; 1 Maccabeus, 1, 22.

18  Exodus, 26, 3; 35, 15; 37, 5 ff; 38, 18; 39, 4 ff; 40, 5; Numbers, 3, 10 ff; 4, 32; 18, 7; 3 Romans, 6, 36; Sirach, 50, 5.

19  Matthew 15:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.

20  Theodoret of Cyrus, PG. 80, col. 281A-B: «ἐν μέσῳ…τὸ καταπέτασμα διατείνας ἐν τύπῳ τοῦ στερεώματος, διχῇ διεῖλεν αὐτήν [sc. τὴν σκηνήν]».

21  John Chrysostom, PG. 12, col. 152A; Cosma Indicopleustes, PG. 88, col. 56D: «…τὴν σκηνὴν ἤν καὶ διελῶν Μωυσῆς διὰ τοῦ καταπετάσματος, τὴν μίαν εἰς δύο πεποίηκεν, καθάπερ καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ἐξ ἀρχῆς τὸν χῶρον τὸν ἕαν τὸν ἀπὸ γῆς ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ διὰ τοῦ στερεώματος διῆλθεν εἰς δύο χώρους».

22  Proclus of Constantinople, PG. 85, col. 433B: «…τὸ τῆς σαρκὸς καταπέτασμα περιβαλλόμενος [sc. ὁ Χριστός] …»; also cf. Cyril of Alexandria, PG. 75, col. 1253.

23  Wenschkewitz, 1932, p. 207.

24  Exodus, 40:1‑5, 9‑10, 16, 34‑35.

25  Read Koutloumousianos, 1972; Mouriki, 1970, p. 225.

26  For example, see the theotokion of the 4th Ode of the Matins on the day of the Nativity of Virgin Mary: “… in your nativity are accomplished the prophecies of the inspired humans that have called thy tabernacle, gate, spiritual mountain, briar, and rod of Aaron that sprouted on the David’s root” (Mercenier, 1948, p. 93).

27  StoufiPoulimenou, 1999, p. 132‑142.

28  On the multiple uses of curtains in the Latin West read MartinianiReber, 1999, p. 289‑305.

29  To the Hebrews, 10: 19‑23.

30  Basil, PG. 31, col. 197.

31  Gregory of Nazianzus, PG. 36, col. 564.

32  John Chrysostom, PG. 63, col. 117.

33  Ibid., col. 139.

34  StoufiPoulimenou, 1999, p. 136 & 141‑2. There is also the “prayer of the veil” which antecedes the “anaphora”, when the veils are raised; see Trempelas, 1961, p. 156‑157 and 1935, p. 73‑74.

35  These views are analyzed in his works Dialogue against Heresies and Interpretation of the Christian temple and its Rituals. On Symeon’s views concerning the icon screen see Constas, 2006, p. 162‑83.

36  In the Bible, it is in the sanctuary that Zacharias had received the appearance of Gabriel announcing to him the conception and birth of John. In the iconographical programs especially of the Early Christian period, all theophany subjects were depicted in the sanctuary.

37  Papastavrou, 2007, p. 330‑331; Constas, 2003, p. 315‑358; id. 1995, p. 169‑194; Evangelatou, 2003, p. 269‑285. Also, on the association of the curtain motif to the Virgin in a Western Medieval case study, read Eberlein, 1983, p. 61‑77.

38  Sotiriou & Sotiriou, 1958, Fig. 27: “…τίς οὐ κλονεῖται καὶ φοβεῖται καὶ τρέμει ἐπὶ ξύλου σὶ κρεμάμενον, ὦ Σῶτερ, βλέπων ῥηγνύντα τὸν χιτῶνα τῆς νεκρώσεως ἀφθαρσίας δὲ τῆς στολῆς…”.

39  Woodfin, 2011, p. 382 and Fig. 17; Vassilaki, 2008, p. 228.

40  Vassilaki, 2012, p. 13‑20.

41  Woodfin, 2011, p. 382.

42  Chatzoulis, 2011, p. 965‑990.

43  On the theme of the Christ‑Angel, see Amann, 1938, p. 12‑156; Florovskij, 1950, p. 229‑230; Meyendorff, 1959, p. 259‑277; Pallas, 1991, p. 119‑144; Velmans, 2001, p. 385‑392. On its relation with the Old Testament, see Proverbs 9,1‑10, Malachi 2, 1, Habbakuk 2, 1, Isaiah; for references to the “angel”, see Meyendorff, 1959, p. 269‑277. On the patristic interpretations, see ibid., p. 260‑261; Velmans, 2001, p. 386‑392.

44  For example, the fifth‑century mosaic of Osios David. For relevant Byzantine paintings see the following list: Βackovo (1100), St. Clemens of Ochrid (1295), Lesnovo (1349), icon of Poganovo (1500). All are cited in LivaXanthaki, 1980, p. 18.

45  Monastery of Barlaam in Meteora, Monastery of Diliou, (LivaXanthaki, 1980, p. 18); Monastery of Philanthropinon (AchimastouPotamianou, 2004). On the dissemination of the theme in the post‑Byzantine painting, see Velmans, 2001, p. 385‑392; Semoglou, 2010, p. 382.

46  For example: the epigonation kept in the Monastery of Chrysopege, see Chania, 2006, p. 11; for the epigonation of the Patmos Monastery, see Theochari, 1988, 198 and Fig. 17.

47  Karakatsanis, 1997, cat. 11.31.

48  Papastavrou & Filiou, 2016, p. 543‑555; Papastavrou & Filiou, 2012, p. 301‑314.

49  Cormack & Vassilaki, 2008, cat. 180.

50  On the iconography of the winged Saint John the Baptist, see Yandim, 2010, p. 626‑633.

51  See Karakatsanis, 1997, cat. 11.25; Patrinelis, Karakatsani & Theochari, 1974, p. 198‑199.

52  On the atmosphere of change in ecclesiastical art of Ottoman Balkans and Anatolia see Ballian, 1989, p. 51‑73; id. 2011, cats. 11‑2, 19, 44, 46‑8, 56, 65; id. 2015, p. 11‑36; Merantzas, 2017, p. 96‑107; Stankova, 2013, p. 737‑745; id. 2016, p. 195‑205; Vryzidis, 2017, p. 177‑191; id. 2018a, p. 92‑114. On Iznik pottery in Greece see KorreZografou, 2004; Carswell, 1966, p. 77‑90.

53  This is one of the relatively few surviving pieces from an Anatolian monastery accompanied by official documentation. The Greek archive of exchangeable property attests this luxurious seventeenth-century Safavid textile was used as a curtain in the Church of Panaghia Speliotissa, Saint Chariton Monastery (Συλλογή Ταμείου Ανταλλαξίμων/Benaki Museum collection of Asia Minor Relics: TA 969), nearby the village of Sille in the province of Konya. The many Safavid and Qajar textiles coming from Anatolian Christian communities, from the seventeenth century and on, shows the Persian mercantile penetration in the region (Vryzidis, 2018b, p. 228‑236).

54  Stanley, RosserOwen & Vernoit, 2004, p. 71 and pl. 85. For mihrab‑style arches in Persian prayer cloths see Wearden & Backer, 2010, cats. 57‑58.

55  One should not forget, however, the monastery’s relationship with the Mevlevi Sufi order and the impact that Sufi thought had on Safavid art. The specific artifact was incompatible to Ottoman Orthodoxy (Sunni Islam) but it is unclear if this was also the case with Sufism. For the relationship between the monastery and the Sufi order, see Salkitzoglou, 2009, p. 119‑164.

56  The hanging is discussed in Vryzidis, 2015, p. 193‑204.

57  On the multiple Christian symbolisms conveyed by the Tree (“δέντρο”) see Lampe, 1961, p. 336. Papastavrou, 2007, p. 248-258.

58  Velmans,1968, Fig. 2.

59  On the Greek Church’s preference for silks patterned with animal motifs, which could be symbolically interpreted, see Vryzidis, 2020, p. 155-184.

60  Bilgi & Zanbak, 2012,p. 25‑26. For prayer rugs at the Topkapı collection see Rogers & Tezcan, Delibaş, 1987, cats. 1‑41, p. 48 and 52.

61  The vase with flowers motif appears very often in Annunciation scenes, sporadically throughout the Middle Ages and systematically in Palaiologan and post‑Byzantine iconography. Although doubtful that the embroiderers knew such details and subtleties, the fact that it is placed underneath the Church could have been interpreted by the clergy as a reference to the Virgin, a prefiguration of the Ecclesia/Church; see Papastavrou, 2007, p. 258‑260. We are thankful to Marielle Martiniani‑Reber for pointing out to us the Armenian aesthetic in the church motif of this drape.

62  For examples of Ottoman Baroque floral decoration on these types of prayer mats/hangings, see Bilgi & Zanbak, 2012, cats. 43‑5 & 47; Marchese & Breu, 2010, p. 33.

63  Indicative of the flexibility of architectural representations is a prayer mat from the Sadberk Hanım Museum (Istanbul) which features the representation of military buildings (Bilgi & Zanbak, 2012, cat. 43). The representation of twin mosques can be found in the seventeenth‑century Chios prayer rug, now in the Convent of the Carmelite Sisters in Cracow (Atasoy et al., 2001, cat. 71).

64  Mann, 1982, p. 158‑159; Juhasz, 1990, pl. 20b ; Yaniv, 2019, p. 193‑252.

65  On Ottoman Jewish acculturation as reflected on its ceremonial art, read Mann, 1994, p. 559‑573.

66  A similar practice can be seen in the eighteenth‑century Armenian Holy Altar Curtain from the Kalfayan collection. A prayer rug was made suitable for Christian use by adding embroidered roundels with the Apostles and a central rectangle featuring Christ and the donor’s inscription in Armenian (Chondrogiannis, 2010, cat. 6).

67  Vryzidis, 2015, p. 215‑224; Papastavrou & Vryzidis, 2018, p. 265‑269.

68  Another hanging featuring baroque columns and a hanging lamp can be found at Panachrantou Monastery in Andros (Fyssas, 2007, cat. A 14), and the Ecclesiastical Museum of Hydra (Hydra, 2009, cat. 37). Similar unpublished hangings, with suspended lamps as the central motif, can also be found in the collections of Iveron and Xeropotamou monastery. In a few cases Ottoman baroque hangings decorated with suspended lamps are also mentioned as booty. For example, in the Museum of the Prousou Monastery (Evrytania), such a mat is mentioned as a gift of the Greek rebels who took it from a mosque (Paliouras, 1997, Fig. 215). It is unclear whether the hanging was repurposed before finding its place in the Museum.

69  The examples in the Topkapı are dated from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century (Tezcan & Okumura, 2007, cats. 8, 10, 11, 15‑7, 35, 44‑5 & 59; Bilgi, 2007, cats. 14 & 47).

70  Ettinghausen, 1974, cat. 1.

71  Khoury, 1992, p. 15‑22. For the relevant chapter on light in the Qu’ran, see Haleem, 2004, p. 220‑226.

72  The lamp continues to be a popular central motif in Ottoman prayer mats until the twentieth century. Ex. see Krody, 2000, cat. 42. See http://jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/collection/3/per_page/25/offset/0/sort_by/date/object/15065>(Accessed 25 January 2017.)

73  One of the earliest datable Ottoman‑made parochets is in the Lvov synagogue in Ukraine, originally made in Chios in 1698 (Atasoy et al. 2001, cat. 72). For another synagogue rug featuring the suspended lamp motif, see Ettinghausen,1974, cat. 5. More parochets with hanging lamps can be found at the Jewish Museum of New York: JM 7‑50, S 450. The writers would like to thank Christina Meri of the Jewish Museum of Greece for her useful comments on the aesthetic of Ottoman parochets.

74  Juhasz, 1990, p. 97‑98. Also see Yaniv, 2009, p. 205‑222, esp. Fig. 143.

75  For the Christian symbolisms conveyed by the lamp (Lychnia/Λυχνία) see Lampe, 1961, p. 817.

76  Bilgi & Zanbak, 2012, cat. 45. Another hanging of this type, but without a lamp, can be found in the collection of the Armenian Patriarchate in Kumkapı (Marchese &Breu, 2010, p. 33). On Armenian altar curtains read the essays by Kouymjian, MartinianiReber & Guelton, 2007, p. 28‑75. Also read Kouymjian, 2020, p. 257‑278.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Sanctuary curtain, Christ as Archpriest, 1398‑1399, Hilandar Monastery, Mount Athos
Crédits Image courtesy of Bojan Miljkovic (photographer: Branislav Strugar)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 529k
Titre Figure 2. Sanctuary curtain, Christ coming out of the Chalice, ca. 1800, Constantinopolitan workshop
Crédits © Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 1708, photographer: Nikos Mylonas)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 435k
Titre Figure 3. Sanctuary curtain, the Nativity, 1627, made by monk Kallinikos
Crédits © Simonopetra Monastery, Mount Athos
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,4M
Titre Figure 4. Sanctuary curtain, the Presentation to the Temple, ca. 1812‑1819, Constantinopolitan workshop, signed by Kokona of Rologa, from the Monastery of the Hypapante (Naoussa)
Crédits © Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 21055, photographer: Charis Psychopaidi)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 437k
Titre Figure 5. Sanctuary curtain, The Baptism, nineteenth century, from the Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner (Serres)
Crédits © Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 21057)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 413k
Titre Figure 6. Sanctuary curtain, Saint John the Baptist, seventeenth century, from Skiathos
Crédits © Byzantine & Christian Museum (BXM 21055, photographer: Nikos Mylonas)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 405k
Titre Figure 7. Sanctuary curtain, Saint Nikolaos, seventeenth century, Asia Minor workshop (?)
Crédits ©Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 517k
Titre Figure 8. Sanctuary curtain, early seventeenth century, Safavid silk, from the Monastery of Saint Chariton in Sille
Crédits © Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 34605, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 612k
Titre Figure 9. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth century, from Argyroupoli/Gümüşhane
Crédits © Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33731, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 507k
Titre Figure 10. Detail: paired birds
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 324k
Titre Figure 11. Sanctuary curtain, nineteenth century, from Caesarea/Kayseri
Crédits © Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33732, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 491k
Titre Figure 12. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth/nineteenth century, probably an embroidered prayer mat with the addition of Christ coming out of the Chalice, from Anatolia
Crédits © Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33789, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 563k
Titre Figure 13. Sanctuary curtain, eighteenth/nineteenth century, from Anatolia
Crédits © Benaki Museum (ΓΕ 33730, photographer: Vassilios Tsonis)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 680k
Titre Figure 14. Parochet from Gördes, Manisa (Turkey), late eighteenth century
Crédits © The Jewish Museum, New York (inv. no. F5182)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18457/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 728k
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Nikolaos Vryzidis et Elena Papastavrou, « Notes on the Sanctuary Curtain: Symbolisms and Iconographies in the Greek Church »Cahiers balkaniques [En ligne], 48 | 2021, mis en ligne le 04 janvier 2022, consulté le 16 janvier 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/18457 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/ceb.18457

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Auteurs

Nikolaos Vryzidis

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Elena Papastavrou

Ephorate of Antiquities of Zakynthos

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Cahiers balkaniques est mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale 4.0 International.

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