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Anonymous (eleventh/twelfth century)

 
 

Obverse

The figure of Christ standing at the right and blessing with his right hand, extended in the sling of his garment, and holding a gospel book in his left; sigla preserved at right: ΙΣ̅|ΧΣ̣̅ : Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς Χ(ριστό)ς. Border of dots.

Reverse

The Dormition of the Virgin: Christ at the center, standing and holding the soul of the Virgin in his right hand, above her soul are the remains of an angel, in front of Christ is the bier with the reclining Virgin; disciples crowd at the left of the bier; above the head of Christ are the remains of an inscription: ΗΚI….. : ἡ Κί(μησις). Border of dots.

Obverse

The figure of Christ standing at the right and blessing with his right hand, extended in the sling of his garment, and holding a gospel book in his left; sigla preserved at right: ΙΣ̅|ΧΣ̣̅ : Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς Χ(ριστό)ς. Border of dots.

Reverse

The Dormition of the Virgin: Christ at the center, standing and holding the soul of the Virgin in his right hand, above her soul are the remains of an angel, in front of Christ is the bier with the reclining Virgin; disciples crowd at the left of the bier; above the head of Christ are the remains of an inscription: ΗΚI….. : ἡ Κί(μησις). Border of dots.

Accession number BZS.1947.2.1859
Diameter 36.0 mm; field: 21.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 7, no. 1.14.

Commentary

Although this specimen is broken in half, a parallel example is known from Genève, no. 394. On that piece, Christ stands at the right with his sigla to the right exactly as in our piece while at the left is an image of the standing Virgin, turned in three-quarters towards Christ, with her arms raised in supplication. At the far left appear her sigla, Θ|̅ : Θ(εοῦ) Μ(ήτη)ρ. As Maria Campagnolo-Pothitou and Jean-Claude Cheynet have pointed out, this seal pairs a scene of the Virgin interceding her Son on behalf of the owner, or of mankind, with that of her Dormition. In both images, the intense closeness of the Mother and Divine Son are expressed even unto her death. Similar to our seal are two specimens in the Hermitage where the standing figure of Christ on the obverse is identifeid as Christ Evergetes (the Benefactor), ΙϹ ΧϹ Ο ΕVΕΡΓΕΤΗϹ. These were published by Šandrovskaja, «Uspenija,» 88-89, figs. 11 and 12; eadem, «Sfragistika,» no. 805; and eadem, “Evangel’skih,” fig. 10. From the entry for Genève, no. 394, there is known yet another unpublished seal from the Zacos collection parallel to the type with the figures of Christ Evergetes and the Virgin paired with the Dormition on the reverse.

Among the published collections, the image of Christ Evergetes appears on just two seals: one, described here with the Dormition on the reverse, and another where Christ alone is on the obverse and an invocative inscription is on the reverse. This latter seal was issued by John Komnenos, the nephew of the emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118) (Laurent, Corpus, 2, no. 973). It is known that John Komnenos restored the monastery of Christ Evergetes in Constantinople between 1104 and 1108, where later in life he lived as a monk. Possibly these seals with the image of Christ Evergetes with the Virign paired with the image of the Dormition and our seal were issued by John Komnenos, given the sphragistic rarity of the epithet Evergetes and pairing of the standing figures of Christ and the Virign with the scene of the Dormition. If so, it lends further support to the conclusion that seals with narrative or Christological scenes were issued by members of the aristocracy: see Cotsonis, «Narrative Scenes,» 66-69. Among the narrative scenes found on seals, that of the Dormition is the fourth most popular. There are eleven examples found among the published collections.

Parallel to: Genève, no. 394 and similar to Šandrovskaja, «Uspenija,» figs. 11 and 12; Šandrovskaja, “Sfragistika,”, no. 805; and eadem, “Evangel’skih,” 262-263, fig. 10.