Theotokos "Enthroned" icon (6)

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Orthodox icon of Theotokos "Enthroned" (6) .Second half of 16th century.

Original the icon was in the Solovki Monastery in Russia and now in the Museum of Moscow. The icon is part of the superb collection of icons that belonged to the Solovki Monastery. There is a close connection between the symbolism in this icon and the "Akathistos Hymn" of Theotokos. The icon is takes its cue from the 6th ikon of the "Akathistos": "Hail, rock that quenched the thirst of those thirsting for life" which, in turn, finds its reference in Daniel: "A stone was cut out from the mountain by no human hand...and it became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (2:34.35).

The rock that smote the great image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream is Christ, while Theotokos symbolizes the heavens that allow the rock to fall. Theotokos clothes is, in fact, interwoven with clouds while over Her bosom the rainbow unfolds (sign of the covenant that God establishes with man); the tree stars which usually appear over Her head an on Her shoulders ( a very old Syriac symbol of Her Virginity before, during and after giving birth) are substituted by the portrayal of winds (as in this case) or of heavenly bodies.

As well the Child which Theotokos claps in the Odigitria position, She has in Her hands the mountain and the ladder sign of unity between heaven and earth brought to fruition by the Incarnation. This symbol too, which goes back to Jacob's vision, is expressed in the "Akathistos" thus: "Hail, heavenly ladder down which came God; hail, transfer bridge for earthlings to heaven." The splendor of the ornamentation, the extreme freedom with which the artist paints the throne of Theotokos, the spreading and the unfurling of lines and shapes aim to create the impression of the immense and awesome beauty of the cosmos, over which Christ appears as the sovereign Lord. The Child's scroll under-scores His lordship which extends beyond the frontiers of time and space: "Before Abraham was, I Am" (John 8:58)