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Epitaphios

Epitaphios

  • Place of origin:

    Greece (made)

  • Date:

    1407 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk and silver threads on silk ground; linen or canvas lining

  • Museum number:

    8278-1863

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This embroidered crimson silk twill cloth is an epitaphios. An epitaphios is a large cloth carried in procession in the Good Friday services and for which the early term was Great Aër. The decoration, with the body of the dead Christ accompanied by angels with fans and with the symbols or figures of the evangelists in the corners, is of conventional form. In this example, the verses from the troparion emphasise the Good Friday theme. The dedication also mentions Prayer of the servant of God Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes with his wife and children in the year 6915 [1407]. The Nicholas mentioned here may well be the Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes who acted as Manuel II's ambassador to the Venetians in 1416 and was one of his delegates to the Council of Constantine in 1414-17.

The Eudaimonoioannes family held an important place in the history of the Morea (the Peloponnese), as archons of Monemvasia from the 13th century until the Turkish conquest. The epitaphios was probably commissioned for donation to a church in Nicholas' native Morea. It is likely to have been made somewhere in the Greek peninsula but was possibly a product of the capital, Constantinople.

Physical description

Embroidered silk and silver threads on crimson silk ground. Linen or canvas lining. The dead Christ figure lying at the centre on a stone slab, two angels with liturgical fans to his left and right; in the corners, busts of the four Evangelists. A Greek inscription runs around the outside in gold thread.

Place of Origin

Greece (made)

Date

1407 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk and silver threads on silk ground; linen or canvas lining

Marks and inscriptions

The honorable Joseph, having taken down from the wood the spotless body of Thee and having wrapped it up in a clean winding-sheet together with aromatics, taking upon himself to afford it a becoming burial, laid it in a new grave./ Seeing at the grave the women who were carrying perfumes, the Angel cried out 'The ointments fitting for mortal beings are lying here, but Christ, having undergone death, has shown himself after another form'/ Prayer of the servant of God Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes with his wife and children in the year 6915 [1407], indiction 15.
Greek inscription in gold thread around the outside of the cloth. Two of these sections are verses from the troparion for Good Friday.

Dimensions

Height: 85.5 cm, Width: 140.5 cm

Object history note

The donors, the Eudaimonoioannes family, held an important place in the history of the Morea (the Peloponnese), as archons of Monemvasia from the 13th century until the Turkish conquest. The Nicholas mentioned here in the dedication may well be the Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes who acted as Manuel II's ambassador to the Venetians in 1416 and one of his delegates to the Council of Constantine in 1414-17. In 1756 recorded as being in the monastery of the Santi Apostoli in Naples. According to Cajetani, it had been brought to Naples in 1628 from 'Calata' in Sicily.

Descriptive line

Large panel of crimson silk twill embroidered in gold, silver and coloured silks showing the dead Christ.

Production Note

Possibly belonged to Manuel II's ambassador to the Venetians

Attribution note: Embroidered epitaphios or cloth showing the body of Christ which was carried in procession with other objects connected with the Eucharist.

Materials

Silk; Silver thread; Linen

Techniques

Embroidery

Subjects depicted

Christ

Categories

Ecclesiastical textiles; Embroidery; Images Online

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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