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Made by: Unknown

Currently in storage

About this object

The central panel of the altar cloth is rendered entirely in metal thread embroidery except for the dolichnoe (faces, hands, and feet of the holy figures and the body of Christ). Those areas are sewn in an ivory silk thread with shadows or outlines in a heavier brown or tan silk thread. The scene depicted follows the traditions of seventeenth-century iconography: the body of Christ with a pale cloth around the hips is laid out on a bier. Mary (the Mother of God) is seated at his head and Joseph is at his feet. John and Nicodemus, situated next to Joseph and above Christ, bend over the body in sorrow. Above and to the right of Mary are two lamenting women. The mourner at far left is the Magdalene, although the icon painter or the embroiderers have neglected to add the undone hair which she would be pulling in her grief. Behind the figures is a cross with the lance and reed on either side. The outer bands are made from a green, patterned cloth that has faded. At the top center is an image of God Sabaoth, in this case a half-length figure of an older man a tunic, chiton, and mitre emerging from thick clouds. His arms are outstretched and he blesses with both hands by touching his third finger to his thumb. His breath/spirit (dukh) are rendered as three lines outlining the path of the Holy Spirit, here symbolized as a bird, as it descends toward Christ. The four corners of the outer bands are embroidered with figures of cherubim.

Object name:
Made from:
Silk -- linen -- gold-wrapped thread -- silk thread -- silver-wrapped silk thread -- gilt spangles
Made in:
Date made:
66 × 71.8 cm (26 × 28 1/4 in.)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
Inscription The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Thy most pure body from the Tree, wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb (from the Troparion of Holy Saturday). Transliterated: Blagoobraznyi Iosif, s dreva snem Prechistoe Telo Tvoe, plashchanitseiu chistoiu obviv, i voniami (or blagovoniami) vo grobe nove pokryv polozhi. On the front of the altar cloth
Credit line:
Museum Purchase, with funds provided by Ann Kleimola and Karen L. Kettering, 2004