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Made by: Unknown

Currently in storage

About this object

In the Russian Orthodox Church, altar cloths cover chalices and dishes used for Holy Communion. Covering these vessels emphasizes the sacredness of the consecrated Eucharistic gifts of wine and bread. This altar cloth is placed over smaller altar cloths during parts of the liturgy. When the creed is sung, the priest gently lifts this cloth up and down as a symbol of the grace-giving action of the Holy Spirit.

The background is made of a deep purple velvet. In the center is a figure of Christ as Agnus Dei (reclining figure of the Dead Christ). The figure is painted on gessoed canvas that has been affixed to the cloth over a layer of cotton in imitation of stumpwork. The form rests against a mandorla rendered in silver-wrapped thread and finished in a patterned stitch. Around this is a band of gold with numerous rays, suggesting heavenly light. The rich border is made of wide, scrolling forms in gold interspersed with sheaves of wheat, with grains in silver. The sheaves are placed in the four corners and on either side of large chalices in gilt stumpwork. They are spaced evenly around the hem. The chalices above and below Christ are marked IUS and those to his left and right are marked XC. The fringe is in gold-wrapped silk thread. Back is lined in a faded (formerly purple?) silk that now appears to be a light brownish-orange.

coverings and hangings
Object name:
Made from:
Velvet -- silk -- gold-wrapped silk thread -- silver-wrapped silk thread -- cotton -- gilt spangles -- canvas -- gesso
Made in:
Date made:
53.3 x 72.4 cm (21 x 28 1/2 in.)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973