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Anonymous (twelfth/thirteenth century)

 
 

Obverse

The Virgin, facing right, with her hands raised towards either an image of Christ or the manus DeiSigla: ̅Θ̣Υ̅ : Μή(τη)ρ Θ(εο)ῦ. Border of dots.

 

Reverse

St Theodore, in civil costume, facing left, with his hands raised in prayer towards an image of Christ or the manus Dei. Inscription in two columns (only the right survives): Δ||ΡΟ|Σ : [ὁ ἅ(γιος) Θεό]δωρος. Border of dots.

Obverse

The Virgin, facing right, with her hands raised towards either an image of Christ or the manus DeiSigla: ̅Θ̣Υ̅ : Μή(τη)ρ Θ(εο)ῦ. Border of dots.

 

Reverse

St Theodore, in civil costume, facing left, with his hands raised in prayer towards an image of Christ or the manus Dei. Inscription in two columns (only the right survives): Δ||ΡΟ|Σ : [ὁ ἅ(γιος) Θεό]δωρος. Border of dots.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.3458
Diameter 25.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 7, no. 6.4.

Credit Line Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Thomas Whittemore.

Commentary

As noted elsewhere (seal no. 6.1 in DO Seals 7), images of saints praying towards the manus Dei on seals are not common. It is also uncommon to find the military saints dressed in civil garb after the early eleventh century. Among the 747 examples of published seals with an image of Theodore, just 56 depict him in civil costume, while 28 of these are from the eleventh century and later. For a discussion of the chronological transition of the depiction of military saints from civil to military costume on seals, see Cotsonis, “Contribution,” 469-473. Nelson, “Heavenly Allies at the Chora,” 31-40, discusses how the prominent mosaic figures of military saints in the narthex of a fourteenth-century church are rendered in elaborate, courtly garb that associate the heavenly and earthly court for the benefit of aristocratic beholders. Possibly our seal, coming at the beginning of the later Byzantine period, also reflects this desired association whereby a military figure dressed in civil, courtly fashion, echoes the sartorial standards of its owner. If so, then this seal is another example indicating that iconographic seals were associated with members of aristocratic or high ranking families, as discussed in the Introduction to DO Seals 7.