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Anonymous (tenth century)

 
 

Obverse

The Annunciation: the Virgin stands at left; the angel Gabriel approaches from the right. Remains of an illegible vertical inscription at the left border. Possible inscription at left:  Ο̣Χ̣|Ε̣.Ε̣Τ̣|..Μ|Ο̣|̣ : ὁ Χε[ρ]ετ[ισ]μὸς.

Reverse

The Archangel Michael standing, wearing the imperial loros, and holding a trefoil topped scepter in his right hand and a globus cruciger in his left. Sigla: ΧΑ̅ΜΧ̣̅ : Ἀ(ρ)χ(άγγελος) Μ(ι)χ(αὴλ). Linear border.   

Obverse

The Annunciation: the Virgin stands at left; the angel Gabriel approaches from the right. Remains of an illegible vertical inscription at the left border. Possible inscription at left:  Ο̣Χ̣|Ε̣.Ε̣Τ̣|..Μ|Ο̣|̣ : ὁ Χε[ρ]ετ[ισ]μὸς.

Reverse

The Archangel Michael standing, wearing the imperial loros, and holding a trefoil topped scepter in his right hand and a globus cruciger in his left. Sigla: ΧΑ̅ΜΧ̣̅ : Ἀ(ρ)χ(άγγελος) Μ(ι)χ(αὴλ). Linear border.   

Accession number BZS.1947.2.1842
Diameter 25.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 7, 2.4.

Commentary

On this seal the Angel approaches from the observer’s right, placing the Virgin at the right hand of the heavenly messenger, prioritizing the Archangel’s status. This was the customary arrangement of the figures in the pre-Iconoclastic period. Following Iconoclasm, most depictions of the Annunciation, on seals and in other media, transpose the placement of the figures whereby the Virgin would be depicted on the observer’s right and the angel now situated at her right hand. The elevated status of the Virgin reflected on the seals parallels the elevated status of the cult of the Virgin in light of the Iconophile support of her image and intercessory role. Her role in the Incarnation was used by the Iconophiles in supporting sacred images of Christ as a means of proclaiming the reality of the Incarnation. Among the published examples of seals with the image of the Annunciation, all pre-Iconoclastic specimens depict the Virgin on the observer’s left. The tenth century marks the period of transition on seals: of six published tenth-century pieces, three follow the pattern of our seal and three place the Virgin on the observer’s right. On seals, from the eleventh century onward, the Virgin is consistently placed on the observer’s right. For a detailed discussion of these seals and the phenomenon of the transposition of the figures of the Annunciation in general, see Cotsonis, “Narrative Scenes,” 61-63.