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What Is An Icon?

The term icon goes back to the Greek word "EIKON", which can be translated as "Picture or likeness of an archetype".

Icons are pictures typically found in Orthodox Churches, especially in Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine Rite. On the one hand, icons are works of art with a certain mystical aura. On the other hand, they are objects related to prayer and day-to-day life for believers. Every icon stands for the presence of God and is the most direct form of divine self-experience for an Orthodox believer. Frequent subjects are Christ, the Virgin Mother and saints.

Often, scenes from the Old and New Testament or from Church history are depicted.

Icons can be made of various materials such as wood, ivory, stone, bronze, brass, silver, gold enamel or woven fabric. The most common form is the wooden icon, which has traditionally been made in a fixed set of highly elaborate steps. Icons created today still follow the same procedures. Due to the number of individual steps and the necessary patience and skill of the artist, every carefully produced icon is a work of many months. To this day, Orthodox iconographers traditionally use egg tempera, i.e. colour pigments bound with egg. These colours have the advantage of not undergoing a chemical change, ensuring a painting can last many centuries.

In addition to their use in church, where some monumental icons may be more than a metre high, many icons were designed for worship in the “good corner” of the house. House icons generally had a smaller format with a maximum height of 50 cm. Foldable icons (diptychs or triptychs) or metal icons frequently accompanied people when travelling.

At IkonsWorld.com, you can admire a huge selection of icons covering all ages, themes, materials and formats. We are looking forward to welcoming you at our gallery.

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