Christian art in eastern icons

The church and its history The essence and identity of Christianity At its most basic, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ. As a traditionChristianity is more than a system of religious belief. It also has generated a culturea set of ideas and ways of life, practices, and artifacts that have been handed down from generation to generation since Jesus first became the object of faith. Christianity is thus both a living tradition of faith and the culture that the faith leaves behind.

Christian art in eastern icons

John Yiannias Introduction Anyone who witnesses an Orthodox liturgy for the first time will be struck by its frank appeal to the senses. But the chanting and choral singing, the incense, the vestments and ritual movements of the priest and acolytes, and the images everywhere around are not mere Christian art in eastern icons.

They are integral aspects of the whole liturgical "event". They reveal and celebrate its meaning. It has been so for centuries.

Christian art in eastern icons

An old Russian chronicle relates that Prince Vladimir of Kiev d. We know only that God dwells there among men. The Liturgy is the anticipation and conditional realization here and now of that promised end. The Eucharist itself is proof of this.

This qualification is important. Many things loosely called "beautiful" in fact embody values symptomatic of the world in its unsanctified condition and consequently have no place in the Church.

Such, to give an example, would be a picture, however artistically executed, that depicts a saint as physically attractive or mawkish. One often hears people complain of the somber faces in icons. The outstanding achievement of the sacred arts of Orthodoxy lies in their brilliant and creative response to the requirements of this canon.

It also exerted strong influence on the art of Western Christians until well into the thirteenth century. In the Orthodox world the fall of Constantinople in accelerated the development of national styles within the Byzantine tradition - Greek, Serbian, Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Arabic - but also led to the gradual adoption of Renaissance and Baroque ideas from the West, until in the nineteenth century the Byzantine essence of Orthodox art was barely discernible beneath the Western overlay.

In recent decades, however, Orthodox artists have begun to recover their Byzantine heritage, just as Orthodox theologians have returned to the patristic sources of Orthodoxy. Orthodox Architecture Origin The Orthodox church building is nothing more or less than the architectural setting for the Liturgy.

Originally, converted houses served the purpose. The history of the church as a conspicuous structure begins with the official toleration of Christianity by Constantine the Great inalthough there is evidence that sizeable churches existed before his time in some large cities.

In the fourth and fifth centuries, buildings were erected to facilitate baptism baptistries and burial mausolea and to commemorate important events in the lives of Christ and the saints martyria ; but it was the building designed primarily to accommodate the celebration of the Eucharist that became the typical Christian structure - the church as we think of it today.

The Basilica As early as the fifth century, church plans varied from one part of the Empire to another. A church in, say, Syria or Greece and one in Italy or Egypt were likely to differ noticeably.

But most were basilicas, long rectangular structures divided into three or five aisles by rows of columns running parallel to the main axis, with a semi-cylindrical extension - an apse - at one end usually the eastern of the nave, or central aisle.

The altar stood in front of the apse. A low barrier separated the bema - the area around the altar - from the rest of the church for the use of the clergy. Sometimes a transverse space - the transept - intervened between the aisles and apsidal wall.

Just inside the entrance was the narthex, a chamber where the catechumens stood during the Liturgy of the Faithful.

In front of the entrance was a walled courtyard, or atrium. The roof was raised higher over the nave than over the side aisles, so that the walls resting on the columns of the nave could be pierced with windows.

The flat walls and aligned columns of a basilica define spatial volumes that are simple and mainly rectangular except for the apse ; they also are rationally interrelated and in proportion to each other, with a horizontal "pull" toward the bema, where the clergy would be seen framed by the outline of the apse.

More dramatic spatial effects were made possible when vaults and domes, which had been common in baptistries, mausolea, and martyria, were applied to churches. The architects, Anthemius and Isidorus, created a gigantic, sublime space bounded on the lower levels by colonnades and walls of veined marble and overhead by membranous vaults that seem to expand like parachutes opening against the wind.

The climactic dome has forty closely spaced windows around its base and on sunny days appears to float on a ring of light. Hagia Sophia is sometimes called a "domed basilica," but the phrase minimizes the vast differences between the dynamism of its design and the comparatively static spaces of a typical basilica.

No church would be constructed to rival Hagia Sophia; but the dome was established as a hallmark of Byzantine architecture although basilicas continued to be builtand it infused church design with a more mystical geometry.

In a domed church one is always conscious of the hovering hemisphere, which determines a vertical axis around which the subordinate spaces are grouped and invites symbolic identification with the "dome" of heaven. Cross-In Square Of the large number of Byzantine church plans incorporating domes, we shall consider the one that became most widespread.

This is the "cross-in-square" plan, adopted in Constantinople in the later ninth century, after the Iconoclastic Controversy had ended about which more will be said.

What is an icon ?

In the simplest terms, this kind of church is cubical on the first level and cruciform on the second, with a dome resting on a cylinder at the intersection of the arms of the cross, and smaller domes or vaults over the four corners of the cube, between the arms of the cross.

Schematically it looks like this: The ground plan, if we add three apses on the east and a narthex on the west, looks something like this: The chambers flanking the central apse on the north and south are the prothesis and diaconicon respectively.

Christian art in eastern icons

The former is where the priest prepares the Eucharistic elements before the Liturgy proper begins, and the latter is a place of storage for liturgical utensils, books, and vestments. After the sixth century, Byzantine churches were of modest size but proportionately taller.Christianity - Art and iconography: Christian art constitutes an essential element of the religion.

Until the 17th century the history of Western art was largely identical with the history of Western ecclesiastical and religious art. During the early history of the Christian Church, however, there was very little Christian art, and the church generally resisted it with all its might.

Western painting - Eastern Christian: A new artistic centre was created in the eastern Mediterranean with the foundation in the early 4th century ad of Constantinople (modern Istanbul) on the site of Byzantium.

The term Byzantine is normally used to identify the art of this city and of the Orthodox Christian empire that was controlled from it and that .

An icon (from Greek εἰκών eikōn "image") is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic, and certain Eastern Catholic churches.

The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and especially associated with "portrait" style images concentrating on one or two main figures. The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately – million members.

As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East. Icon: Icon,, in Eastern Christian tradition, a representation of sacred personages or events in mural painting, mosaic, or wood.

After the iconoclastic controversy of the 8th–9th century, which disputed the religious function and meaning of icons, the Eastern Church formulated the doctrinal basis for. Medieval Christian Art: Illuminated Manuscripts () With the fall of Rome and the disintegration of the Roman Empire, Western Europe entered the Dark Ages (), a period of political uncertainty and cultural stagnation.

Icons in Christianity - ReligionFacts