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Icon  

Richard Temple

[Gr. eikon: ‘image’]

Wooden panel with a painting, usually in tempera, of a holy person or one of the traditional images of Orthodox Christianity (see fig.), the religion of the Byzantine empire practised today mainly in Greece and Russia (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI, and Post-Byzantine art, §II, 1). The word also has a range of related but disparate meanings, from the abstract and philosophical to the purely literal. For example, it is still used in modern Greek to mean an image or picture in the ordinary sense. In antiquity, Platonists and Neo-Platonists held that the material, earthly world reflects, or is the image of, the higher and divine cosmos; the Old Testament provides the theme of man as the icon of God in the temple of the world; and St Paul declared that ‘Christ is the icon of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus the idea of the icon is associated with cosmology and the theology of the Incarnation. In the Early Christian period, disputes over such questions as whether or not God can be known or depicted or the invisible can be seen were part of an intense debate surrounding the acceptability, meaning and function of images of Christ. All this was bound up with the complex questions of Christology that exercised the best minds of the period. Whole communities and nations were divided into Orthodox and heretics over the problem of defining the two natures of Christ, the relationship between his humanity and his divinity. The theory and belief system of icons was developed by theologians between the 4th and the 9th centuries, though only a few icons survive from then and up to the 12th century. Once established, however, the doctrinal principles never changed, and the study of icons is as much a matter of theology as of art. Subject-matter, form and composition did not deviate from the established dogma on which they depended; indeed, icons have been called theology in colour (Trubetskoy)....

Article

Oxana Cleminson

Decorative metalwork cover for a Christian icon. The icon cover developed from the ornamental metal plates and silver embossed icons known to have decorated Early Christian altar screens (see Screen, §2). Its appearance and form resulted from a new understanding of the icon and its place in the Orthodox liturgy (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI, 1), and the silver cover is of particular importance in the Eastern Church. There are three major types of icon cover: those that entirely conceal the painted icon, those that leave the faces, hands and feet of the figures exposed and those that cover only the background and margins of the icon. The first two types of silver cover have a symbolic and eucharistic significance similar to that of the ciborium (see Ciborium) in which the consecrated elements are kept: they not only have a decorative function, but also serve a ritual purpose as sacred covers. Some icon covers also contained relics, such as that of the 11th–12th-century ...

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Jubé  

French term for a rood screen (see Screen, §3). It derives from the Latin phrase Jube domine benedicere (‘Let us bless the Lord’), which is often spoken by Catholic priests before the lesson while standing in front of the screen.

J. Mallion: ‘Le Jubé de la cathédrale de Chartres’, Information d’histoire de l’art, 11 (1964), pp. 93–103 J. Mallion: ‘Le Jubé de la cathédrale de Chartres’, (Luisant, 1964) L. Pressouyre: ‘Chronique: Un Apôtre du jubé de Strasbourg au Musée de Toledo?’, Bulletin monumental, 123 (1965), pp. 155–6 L. Pressouyre: ‘Pour une reconstitution du jubé de Chartres’, Bulletin monumental, 125 (1967), pp. 419–29 C. Gnudi: ‘Le jubé de Bourges et l’apogée du “classicisme” dans la sculpture de l’Ile-de-France au milieu du XIIIe siècle’, Revue de l’art, 3 (1969), pp. 18–36 F. Joubert: ‘Le jubé de Bourges’, Bulletin monumental, 137 (1979), pp. 341–69 F. Baron: ‘Mort et résurrection du jubé de la cathédrale d’Amiens’, ...

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Shalom Sabar

[Heb.: Jewish marriage contract; pl. ketubbot]

Type of document, sometimes decorated or illustrated, recording financial and other details of the Jewish marriage contract. It was instituted by the authors of the Talmud (the Jewish legal code) in order to protect the status and property of the wife in case of divorce, which the husband could initiate at will, or the husband’s death. The document is traditionally written in Aramaic, the common Jewish language in Palestine and Babylonia during the Talmudic era (1st–6th centuries ad). A basic textual formula developed, with significant variations in the ketubbot of the various communities.

Surviving ketubbot, from the Middle Ages onwards, are drawn on one side of parchment (chiefly in Europe) or paper (usually in Islamic countries). The festive occasion of the marriage and the ritual of reading aloud the ketubbah during the ceremony helped establish the tradition, especially among Sephardi (Spanish-Portuguese), Italian and Middle and Near Eastern Jews, of decorating the borders of the contract. The earliest surviving examples, from Egypt and Syria–Palestine of about the 11th and 12th centuries, are decorated with simple designs of flowers, architectural elements and geometric patterns. A few simple, decorated ...

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Lavra  

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

[Mahzor]

Illuminated Hebrew Machzor (Leipzig, Ubib., MS. Voller 1002/I–II)—prayer book for holy days—made c. 1310–20. Its two volumes contain the optional liturgical poems commonly recited according to the Ashkenazi rites. The text reflects the specific prayer rite of Worms and, even though this assumption cannot be confirmed by a colophon, it must have served this particular community up to the early 17th century when it was transferred to Poland.

Both volumes are richly illustrated in a style that recalls upper Rhenish schools of illumination and may have been decorated by artists trained in that region. At least two different hands, one of them most probably Christian, were involved in the layout of the book. The decorative programme includes elaborate initial panels and marginal images. The former display complex allegorical and symbolic compositions relating to the poems or the subject matter of the holy days. An example is the juxtaposition of various symbols related to the New Year showing a man with a Jewish hat blowing a ...

Article

Zachary D. Stewart

Architectural form rarely followed liturgical function in a prescriptive manner during the Middle Ages. Indeed, since the physical demands of liturgical performance were slight, churches of widely divergent size and arrangement often accommodated similar rites. But architecture and liturgy were by no means unrelated phenomena. On the contrary, they shared a single essential purpose, namely the sanctification of space and time. As a result, these two means of ritual signification frequently animated and activated one another, transforming religious buildings into powerful vehicles for sensual and spiritual experience.

The liturgical heart of any given church was the main Altar on which the Eucharist, the sacrament embodying Christian community, was consecrated during the Mass. From the time of Emperor Constantine (reg 306–37), the altar usually occupied the terminal end of the church, placed opposite to and on axis with the main entrance of the structure. This practice held true across building types. The altar of St Peter’s in Rome (...

Article

Michael Clifford

In the context of the medieval liturgy, art served to emphasize the sacrality of the rite, and liturgical objects were fashioned from the most costly materials available. The most important pieces were the eucharistic vessels used to contain the bread and wine that would be consecrated during the Mass. Gold or silver was preferred for Chalices, which were also and decorated with enamel or figural niello. The form of the chalice varied considerably throughout the Middle Ages but usually consisted of a bowl, a knop, and a foot. Ministerial chalices, common before the 13th century, had larger bowls with handles to facilitate communion, sometimes received through a liturgical straw made of precious metal. Later Gothic examples were taller and generally characterized by architectural ornamentation. The paten used to hold the consecrated Host was a small gold or silver plate. It was generally more modest in appearance than the chalice and received less ornamentation. Outside the Mass, the practice of eucharistic reservation required its own vessels. From the 11th century, eucharistic doves made from cast metal were suspended above the altar with the Host contained inside. Enamel versions from Limoges are common in inventories of the 13th century, which was the peak of their manufacture. The Eucharist might also be reserved in a small circular box called a pyx, made from precious materials and large enough for several hosts. Originally kept in a sacristy, the pyx was placed on the altar in the 9th century and eventually suspended from above. Fixed tabernacles were also used, among which were the tower-like structures called sacrament houses common in Germany and the Low Countries from the 14th century onwards....

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Volume of a large selection of texts, from the Hebrew Bible to 13th-century Jewish writings, copied from c. 1280 to 1290, the first part of which was lavishly illuminated in the late 13th century; some miniatures were added to the end in the second decade of the 14th century (London, BL, MS. Add. 11639). Although of modest size (binding 170×130×85 mm), it contains an enormous variety of texts, 55 copied in the justification of the leaves and 29 copied in the margins, and a veritable treasury of images. The leaves, of very fine parchment, are numbered to 746, but there are in fact 749: 5–739 from the 13th century, 740–45 from the 14th century, and folios 739A and 744–6 added in the 15th.

The Miscellany contains a complete set of the Books of the Bible except for Chronicles (although Prophets is represented only by the readings of the annual cycle), including even the Books of Judith and Tobit from the Apocrypha, a very unusual feature. It also has the prayers and hymns for all the festivals together with their Bible readings, the ...

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Machzor  

Gabrielle Sed-Rajna

[Mahzor; Heb.: ‘cycle’]

Liturgical manuscript containing the prayers, liturgical hymns and Bible readings appropriate to each holy day of the Jewish yearly cycle. Such manuscripts first appeared in the 13th century in Jewish communities along the Rhine, becoming one of their most typical productions. These liturgical volumes were often large in format; the machzor was designed to be placed on the reading desk and read or chanted aloud by the chazan (cantor). The most splendid volumes, such as the Amsterdam Machzor (Amsterdam, Joods Hist. Mus.), were decorated and increasingly came to be illustrated.

The first elements of what became a definite iconographic programme appeared in the mid-13th-century Michael Machzor (Oxford, Bodleian Lib., Mich. MS. 617, 627). Only a few years later, the Laud Machzor already exhibited the complete repertory, which was retained for approximately a century without noteworthy modifications. It included illustrations of Bible scenes related to texts read on particular holy days, for example the ...

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Illuminated manuscript (Paris, Bib. N., MS. n.a.fr. 16251) made in Cambrai depicting 87 of an original set of 90 full-page illustrations of the Life of Christ and a Litany of the Saints accompanied by a Cistercian Calendar, a subject-list and captions to the illustrations. Comprised of 107 folios, the work was made c. 1285. Two artists participated: the assistant, traceable as Master Henri, who painted a compendium of Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amour and a Vies de saints with tiny historiated initials, in 1285 (Paris, Bib. N., MS. fr. 412), and many other books; and the major painter, otherwise untraced, who probably worked in monumental art, wall painting or stained glass. The book was made for a lady identified in the subject list as ‘Madame Marie’ and the pictures originally showed her kneeling before her ten favourite saints: Michael, John the Baptist, Paul, John the Evangelist, James the Greater, Christopher, Francis, Catherine, Margaret (now missing) and Agnes. All but one of these portraits were painted out, probably when the book came into Cistercian possession. SS Gertrude of Nivelles and Waudru of Mons at the end of the litany indicate where Madame Marie lived—the city of ...

Article

Eunice D. Howe

Term of Venetian origin used generally to refer to any producer or purveyor of images of the Virgin. It was used specifically as early as the 15th century and as late as the 18th to designate a painter who specialized in devotional panels of a late Byzantine character. It is often used to signify painters of inferior talent, who executed either religious paintings derived from Byzantine prototypes in a weak, Italianizing style or subjects derived from Italian models in a pseudo-Byzantine manner. However, the artistic abilities of individual Madonneri varied widely, as did their artistic training. Whether Venetian, Cretan or Dalmatian in origin, they generally demonstrated little interest in experimentation, preferring a limited range of themes and stylistic continuity. Devotional images painted by Madonneri survive from the second half of the 15th century; production peaked in the latter half of the 16th century. After the fall of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in ...

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Gabrielle Sed-Rajna

Illuminated manuscript copies of the writings of the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides (Moshe ben Maimon; 1138–1204). Of his many works, preserved in numerous manuscripts, the most widely disseminated was the Mishneh Torah, a codification of Jewish religious law. Several magnificent manuscripts, from different periods and locations, have survived. The oldest and most famous is the Codex Maimuni, also known as the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah (Budapest, Lib. Hung. Acad. Sci., MS. A77/I–IV). It was copied in 1296 by Nathan bar Simeon ha-Levi, in north-eastern France. As well as frontispieces decorated in the Gothic style, the manuscript has in the margins biblical illustrations related to the text, and Maimonides’s ideas about the Temple expressed in the form of diagrams. These were probably a part of the original manuscript, as they appear in most of the copies, particularly those made in France and the Germanic countries, and conform to those in a manuscript of Maimonides’s commentary on the ...

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

Article

Robert Ousterhout

[Gr. martyrion]

Term referring to a site that bears witness to the Christian faith, such as a significant event in the life and Passion of Christ, the tomb of a saint or martyr, and his or her place of suffering or testimony. It is also used to mean the structure erected over such a site. Monumental martyria form an important category of Early Christian architecture, and were built according to a variety of plans.

Martyrion is derived from the Greek martys, meaning witness in the legal sense, and first appears in the Septuagint as the evidence for something. By the mid-2nd century ad martys or martyr came to mean someone whose testimony was sealed with suffering and death for the Christian faith, and by c. 350 martyrion or martyrium was commonly used to refer to the location of a martyr’s tomb and the commemorative shrine or church constructed over it. That it had also come to mean a place revered in the scriptures is implied by Eusebios’ description (...

Article

Damie Stillman

Monumental form of tomb. Its name is derived from one of the most famous buildings of antiquity, the funerary monument completed c. 350 bce at Halikarnassos in Asia Minor (see Halikarnassos, §2) in honor of Mausolos, Satrap of Caria (reg 377–353 bce), and his wife Artemisia (d 351 bce). A mausoleum is a house of the dead, although it is often as much a symbol as a sepulcher. Following the example at Halikarnassos, this term has been employed for large, monumental, and stately tombs, usually erected for distinguished or prominent individuals. It first appeared in English in 1546, applied by Thomas Langley (d 1581) specifically to the tomb of Mausolos. In his translation of Livy (London, 1600), Philemon Holland (1552–1637) extended the meaning of the term to cover a stately burial place for a person of distinction, and by ...

Article

Gabrielle Sed-Rajna and Shalom Sabar

Parchment scroll containing the text of the Old Testament Book of Esther, which recounts the deliverance of the Jews from persecution in the Persian empire and which was probably written during the reign of the Hasmonean Jewish king John Hyrcanus (reg c. 135–105 bc). The Book of Esther has since then traditionally been read in the synagogue on the festival of Purim, for which purpose it was copied separately in the form of a scroll (Megillah; see also Jewish art §VI 3.).

Those scrolls intended for use in the synagogue had no ornament, but every well-off family had an elegantly decorated scroll for its own use, kept in a costly silver case (see Jewish art §VI 3.). It is not possible to trace the history of the decorated Megillah (pl. Megillat); a few exceptional and relatively old pieces served as models and were frequently copied. A 14th-century manuscript (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. hébr. 324, fol. 180) has the earliest description of a scroll of Esther, showing a cantor holding an undecorated Megillah. The illustrations of the Castilian ...