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Kontoglou on Byzantine Iconography

September 03, 2008 Length: 12:27

Today Kh. Krista reads a fascinating and instructive article from the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies about Byzantine iconography compared to western art.

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Transcript Transcript

Hello and welcome to “The Opinionated Tailor Talks Shop”.  In today’s podcast, I would like to share a wonderful essay by Photios Kontoglou. I am deeply indebted to the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies for their permission to use this article. This Institute has published numerous works by both Mr. Kontoglou and Dr. Constantine Cavarnos and is an excellent resource for those of you wanting to read more on subjects pertaining to iconography, architecture, vestments, and chant within the Church. They can be found online at

The essay that I am going to read pertains to iconography, but its main theme is the spiritual nature of the art that we employ in the Orthodox Church solely for the adornment of churches in the form of iconography, architecture, vestments, and chant. It is an excellent introduction into the mystical nature of these crafts and why they are different from mere painting, building, sewing, and singing. The essay also states very clearly and forthrightly the main differences between Byzantine iconography and Western painting.

Now, iconography is admittedly a bit beyond my sphere and I certainly don’t claim to be an expert. But the differences between Western art and Byzantine icons are very similar to the differences between Western vestments like those used in the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches and Orthodox vestments.

So as you listen to this, please keep in mind that this essay pertains not just to iconography, but to all of the forms of beauty we find in the Church.

This is taken from the book, Byzantine Sacred Art edited by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos.

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