RUSKE METALNE IKONE
– OD MOLITVE DO SUVENIRA
RUSSIAN METAL ICONS
– FROM PRAYER TO SOUVENIR
Journal 1/2005 (Museum of Applied Art), pages 45-53
The history of production and dissemination of icons made of copper alloy in the 17th – Century Russia reflects, in a way, the contemporary developments in Russian Orthodox Church. In the middle of the 17th century there was a schism in the Church leading to the formation of two basic currents. The first one, led by Patriarch Nikon, conducted a serious of reforms and interventions in liturgy, liturgical books and other aspects of church life, shaping them in accordance with Greek orthodoxy. The aspiration of Patriarch Nikon to establish domination over all orthodox peoples, tending to strengthen the position of the Russian patriarch himself, and his politics raised stormy reactions. The most eager opponents were the Traditionalists, led by the proto-priest Habakkuk. Rejecting all the novelty in liturgy, fighting bitterly against the reforms and any Western influence, the Traditionalists were subject to persecutions; therefore they withdrew to Northern Russia, the Siberia and the White Sea region. The schism left a deep trace in the Russian church, weakening its power, while the very principal protagonists, Nikon and Habakkuk, ended their lives rejected and in exile. Keeping the main influence in the field of metallurgy during the 18th century, the Traditionalists controlled the production of crosses and icons made of copper alloy that embodied and preserved their consistent traditional beliefs. Bronze icons became extremely popular outside of the circles of Traditionalists: of small dimensions, handy and easy to store, made of durable material, they were bought and given as gifts with prayer and in memory of specific saint, events, places of pilgrimage and people.
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