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Oriental Orthodox Jacobite Saint in Eastern/Byzantine Iconographic Style

Alveus Lacuna

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There is an icon just put up in my OCA church of a Malankara Indian saint, Saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios, done in the Greek/Byzantine style.

Very unusual but also heartwarming in some ways, depending on how literate you are in the complicated issues involved with such a thing. Strange to see a Jacobite on the walls of a Russian-heritige church. Anyway, just posting because it's interesting.

I meant to take a picture of it, but all I have right now is a photo my priest upload with the Indian families in our church. I cropped them out to keep it impersonal. I'll try to remember to take a better photo myself in the coming weeks.

 

minasoliman

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Our Coptic saint, recently canonized, Pope St. Kyrillos VI the wonder-worker, also had a Russian style icon done for him:

 

Salpy

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Both icons are beautiful!
 

kijabeboy03

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Alveus Lacuna said:
There is an icon just put up in my OCA church of a Malankara Indian saint, Saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios, done in the Greek/Byzantine style.

Very unusual but also heartwarming in some ways, depending on how literate you are in the complicated issues involved with such a thing. Strange to see a Jacobite on the walls of a Russian-heritige church. Anyway, just posting because it's interesting.

I meant to take a picture of it, but all I have right now is a photo my priest upload with the Indian families in our church. I cropped them out to keep it impersonal. I'll try to remember to take a better photo myself in the coming weeks.

My Malankara Orthodox priest friends tell me the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has sent students to Greece to learn how to paint in the Byzantine style as an effort to introduce a less Western style of iconography to the region's churches.

Wonderful to hear that an icon of St. Gregory has a home in a Byzantine Orthodox church!
 

Alpo

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kijabeboy03 said:
My Malankara Orthodox priest friends tell me the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has sent students to Greece to learn how to paint in the Byzantine style as an effort to introduce a less Western style of iconography to the region's churches.
Why to Greece? There isn't indigenous tradition of Indian Orthodox iconography?
 

Mor Ephrem

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Alpo said:
kijabeboy03 said:
My Malankara Orthodox priest friends tell me the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has sent students to Greece to learn how to paint in the Byzantine style as an effort to introduce a less Western style of iconography to the region's churches.
Why to Greece? There isn't indigenous tradition of Indian Orthodox iconography?
Not really.  There is an indigenous style of painting religious images, and there are extant examples of such art in the older churches, but AFAIK there is not a consistent tradition in the way we see in other traditions (i.e., passed on from masters to disciples, following very particular rules and forms, etc.).  There are several factors involved in this state of affairs.   

The goal of sending students to Greece (and Egypt and, IIRC, Holy Mother Russia), as well as having teachers come to India from Europe, is, according to one Metropolitan with whom I spoke, to learn the principles of an existing, healthy tradition and then apply those principles toward developing/resurrecting an Orthodox Indian iconography which could then be passed on from master to disciple as done elsewhere.
 

minasoliman

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it looks really nice!
 

Nephi

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Very nice! I'm honestly surprised I haven't seen something similar in the OCA/Antiochian parishes I've been to (although with other OO traditions, not Indian per se).
 

minasoliman

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I was looking up his older icon to compare, and I saw other icons of him:









And this last one is pretty much based on the original:



But I do tend to gravitate to liking the original for some reason, maybe because I do tend to like Western style (understandably, I noticed it's also based on an actual photo):

 

minasoliman

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Forgive the sidetrack, but I actually do wonder.  Can one just venerate a photo as an icon?
 

Mor Ephrem

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minasoliman said:
Forgive the sidetrack, but I actually do wonder.  Can one just venerate a photo as an icon?
I don't see why not.  In my mom's parish church in India, it's a copy of that photo that serves as St Gregorios' icon, not a separate painted icon.
 

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minasoliman said:
Forgive the sidetrack, but I actually do wonder.  Can one just venerate a photo as an icon?
I don't see why not. In his office, my priest has a photograph St. Raphael of Brooklyn next to the saint's icon:

 

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minasoliman said:
Forgive the sidetrack, but I actually do wonder.  Can one just venerate a photo as an icon?
From the EO POV, no. A photograph is earthly and temporal. An icon depicts heavenly realities and spiritual perfection.
 

minasoliman

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How do we know it's not just merely post-19th Century preference after the invention of the camera?  Honestly?
 

DeniseDenise

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minasoliman said:
How do we know it's not just merely post-19th Century preference after the invention of the camera?  Honestly?
We know because otherwise no one would bother to paint icons of Saints we have pictures of. 


Simplistic dumb kid answer. 
 

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minasoliman said:
How do we know it's not just merely post-19th Century preference after the invention of the camera?  Honestly?
We know because the ancient Greeks and Romans were masters at representing the human form and the world around them with great realism, in both two- and three-dimensional art. We also have the Fayyum portraits of the Egyptians. Abstracted, non-realistic styles in painting and mosaic was adopted deliberately as the standard for iconography, as was the flatness of two dimensions and the use of reverse perspective, to represent what is heavenly, spiritual, and timeless. In other words, what is spiritually transfigured and perfected, and not of this world.
 

minasoliman

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That's an interesting point...something to consider
 

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minasoliman said:
How do we know it's not just merely post-19th Century preference after the invention of the camera?  Honestly?
When did icons (in certain traditions, at least) become something "abstract," or otherwise distinct, vs whatever was merely the popular art style of the time and place? I mean, in the Byzantine/Roman traditions alone, looking at old "non-iconographic" murals and art and looking at "iconographic" art, there's hardly any difference between the two at certain times and places.
 

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Because, even with more advanced techniques existing during these periods, I see frankly little difference between:



And:



Similarly, Christian frescoes/murals seemed to vary in their "realism" from time and place. IMO, even the famous Sinai Pantocrator looks more realistic than almost all modern icons done in a "traditional" Byzantine style.



Vs:

 

DeniseDenise

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Mor Ephrem said:
Hand-painted icons or no icons, I guess.

No...a print icon is still an icon in style...not a photograph.



By this whole train of thought no one would have a problem with my parish taking their relic of St. Raphael, and scotch taping it to an original photograph of him?
 

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DeniseDenise said:
By this whole train of thought no one would have a problem with my parish taking their relic of St. Raphael, and scotch taping it to an original photograph of him?
Would scotch taping a relic to a hand-painted or print icon of him sound any less irreverent?
 

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Nephi said:
DeniseDenise said:
By this whole train of thought no one would have a problem with my parish taking their relic of St. Raphael, and scotch taping it to an original photograph of him?
Would scotch taping a relic to a hand-painted or print icon of him sound any less irreverent?

well you can't build a gold reliquary on a polaroid.

*shrugs*
 

minasoliman

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I do have the preference that it shouldn't matter.  I mean even if we used Fayoum style paintings or statues of saints, I find it no less venerable.  All styles of honoring God or the saints seem to be equally valid.  There did exist statuettes or flasks of St. Mina for some time for traveling purposes.  To be honest, if we put that in a reliquary in dedication for the building of a church in his name, that would be venerable too. We venerate bodies, clothes, belongings, miracles-working items of saints all the time.  It seems to me photographs are no less so.

But that's my mind talking out loud. Sorry for the sidetrack.
 

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All styles of honoring God or the saints seem to be equally valid.
Perhaps in the OO church, but not the EO church.

Even before the days of photography, where many a bishop or prominent figure had portraits painted of them, if that person was later proclaimed a saint, iconographers were commissioned to paint icons of them. The icons would be venerated, the portraits were not.

It's as Denise said: We know because otherwise no one would bother to paint icons of Saints we have pictures of. 
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
Here's a better image:

Wow, I really like this icon.  The icons I have seen of him are usually painted to closely resemble his likeness, like this one:







I like the idea that icons are meant to portray the holiness of the saint which cannot normally be seen by our eyes in person or through a photograph.  Even though the first icon doesn't resemble his physical features closely, it gives the impression of his holiness and an otherworldly quality. 
 

minasoliman

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That icon of his on the right is nice! It seems to be a modern Byzantine style of his photo.  Perhaps if I was to own an icon of him, it would be that one.
 

Mor Ephrem

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LBK said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Hand-painted icons or no icons, I guess.
Please clarify, Mor.
Denise understood what I was getting at: if a photograph of a saint is unacceptable, then a photograph of an icon is not an icon.  And yet, the most popular icon vendors which sell to churches, bookstores, and individuals are selling precisely that: high quality photographs of icons mounted on wood or some other sort of board which they are calling icons and which the people regard as icons. 

If the argument is that an icon is and ought to be different, then only hand-crafted (e.g., painting, mosaic, relief), unique items made by individuals trained in proper, canonical Orthodox iconographic principles should qualify as icons.  There are no canons from Trullo or II Nicaea or anywhere else governing the mass produced icons that have basically taken over.  Many icons you dismiss as theologically erroneous are among those being produced in this way.  Stopping this flood would be a good way to ensure that the "tradition" of such bad products in the Church dies out. 

But if we're going to accept the mass produced iconography, then it seems one of two things is going on. 

The first is that we accept that photography is acceptable.  In another thread, I quoted your claim that iconography is essentially an expression of the Incarnation.  It makes no sense to claim this very physicality as the justification for painting and venerating images but then reject that very physicality when photographed.  If a photo of an icon is acceptable, why not a photo of its prototype? 

The second possibility is that we are just fetishising a particular style of painting and saying that only that style is sacred.  But it seems that many of the artists featured in the "Schlock Icons" thread depend on just that: namely, that people will accept an icon of Martin Luther King, Jr. as an icon because it is painted in a Byzantine style with some fancy Greek lettering in the vicinity of his head.               
 

Mor Ephrem

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DeniseDenise said:
By this whole train of thought no one would have a problem with my parish taking their relic of St. Raphael, and scotch taping it to an original photograph of him?
Why bring up the scotch taping of relics? 

I would not have a problem with your parish taking an icon of St Raphael and then affixing the relic to it like this:



But I would not have a problem with them taking an original photograph of St Raphael, mounting it appropriately (as opposed to sticking it in a picture frame), and then affixing the relic to it in the same dignified way as above. 

Of course, my preference would be to keep relics in their reliquaries rather than modifying icons by adding relics to them. 
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
DeniseDenise said:
By this whole train of thought no one would have a problem with my parish taking their relic of St. Raphael, and scotch taping it to an original photograph of him?
Why bring up the scotch taping of relics? 

I would not have a problem with your parish taking an icon of St Raphael and then affixing the relic to it like this:



But I would not have a problem with them taking an original photograph of St Raphael, mounting it appropriately (as opposed to sticking it in a picture frame), and then affixing the relic to it in the same dignified way as above. 

Of course, my preference would be to keep relics in their reliquaries rather than modifying icons by adding relics to them. 

Like I said above...you cant really attach a gold relic to a polaroid.  Zero disrespect was meant in terms of it...just that the material does not lend itself to HOW tradition deals with such things.

I assure you, the relic and icon in question ARE like the above shown.  It was an example of why they are different.

 

minasoliman

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One wonders whether these layers of rules are nothing but overkill, a burden that touches not on what the essential importance of the faith are.  Sometimes I read the "woes" of Christ and it makes me worry.  I could understand rules given for each generation of the culture, but when it doesn't become obvious for the seeker of truth, I worry it becomes a burden for nothing.
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
if a photograph of a saint is unacceptable, then a photograph of an icon is not an icon.
I'm not quite following your argument here, Mor. As I understand it, LBK is saying that a photograph of a saint is unacceptable because
LBK said:
Abstracted, non-realistic styles in painting and mosaic was adopted deliberately as the standard for iconography, as was the flatness of two dimensions and the use of reverse perspective, to represent what is heavenly, spiritual, and timeless. In other words, what is spiritually transfigured and perfected, and not of this world.
In other words, the style is what matters. Photographs of people are too realistic. It doesn't necessarily need to be Byzantine in style, but it needs to be stylised in the way that LBK describes. A photograph of such an icon remains an icon because it still has those qualities.
 

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minasoliman said:
Our Coptic saint, recently canonized, Pope St. Kyrillos VI the wonder-worker, also had a Russian style icon done for him:

He seems angry. Apparently God just told him that He has two natures.
 

DeniseDenise

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minasoliman said:
One wonders whether these layers of rules are nothing but overkill, a burden that touches not on what the essential importance of the faith are.  Sometimes I read the "woes" of Christ and it makes me worry.  I could understand rules given for each generation of the culture, but when it doesn't become obvious for the seeker of truth, I worry it becomes a burden for nothing.

oh by all means, lets get rid of some rules, maybe get rid of some of the fripperies attached to things, since those have rules about them too....no more liturgical colors, i mean too many rules to keep track of there...why learn 8 tones.....lets just sing some songs to God.




 

minasoliman

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DeniseDenise said:
minasoliman said:
One wonders whether these layers of rules are nothing but overkill, a burden that touches not on what the essential importance of the faith are.  Sometimes I read the "woes" of Christ and it makes me worry.  I could understand rules given for each generation of the culture, but when it doesn't become obvious for the seeker of truth, I worry it becomes a burden for nothing.

oh by all means, lets get rid of some rules, maybe get rid of some of the fripperies attached to things, since those have rules about them too....no more liturgical colors, i mean too many rules to keep track of there...why learn 8 tones.....lets just sing some songs to God.
Did the Church say you're not allowed to use anything but 8 tones, just as you're not allowed to use photos?  If so, sounds like Coptic hymns are heterodox for their musicality.
 

DeniseDenise

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minasoliman said:
DeniseDenise said:
minasoliman said:
One wonders whether these layers of rules are nothing but overkill, a burden that touches not on what the essential importance of the faith are.  Sometimes I read the "woes" of Christ and it makes me worry.  I could understand rules given for each generation of the culture, but when it doesn't become obvious for the seeker of truth, I worry it becomes a burden for nothing.

oh by all means, lets get rid of some rules, maybe get rid of some of the fripperies attached to things, since those have rules about them too....no more liturgical colors, i mean too many rules to keep track of there...why learn 8 tones.....lets just sing some songs to God.
Did the Church say you're not allowed to use anything but 8 tones, just as you're not allowed to use photos?  If so, sounds like Coptic hymns are heterodox for their musicality.
The specifics are not the point here....you were suggesting were you not....that Orthodxy 'drop some rules' to make it more seeker friendly.....


Some of them did that...and its called the Mega Church.... ;)


(this sort of thread that contrasts so highly with the 'why are our 'Mission Parishes' using all this stuff that is not Orthodox, has me truly convinced that perhaps the OO traditions don't even know what they actually want)


I am thus very confused and will leave the whole thing at that......
 
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