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Home 28 January 2020
Culture Traditional forms of Art - Professions Wood sculpture Wood sculpture of Metsovo Wood sculptured works Epirus Metsovo

Vemothyra, Church for the Repose of the Virgin Mary at Palaiochorion (mid C19th)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)
Entablature and Upper shield Church of Aghia Paraskevi at Heliokale (mid C19th)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)
The Sorrowful Church for the Birth of the Theotokos at Heliochorion (1st half mid C19th)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)
Iconostasis Church of Aghios Athanasios at Botonosion (1969)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)
Iconostasis Church of Aghios Nikolaos at Petra (1998)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)
Vemothyra Church of Aghia Paraskevi at Anthochorion (mid C19th)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)
Despotic icon with lunette Monastery for the Repose of the Virgin Mary at Makrino (1780)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)
Epithyron for the Sacred Porte Monastery for the Repose of the Virgin Mary at Makrino (1780)
(Photo: Triantaphyllos Sioulis)

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Geographic map of Ioannina Prefecture with the works of Metsovo and Tournovo wood sculptors
Geographic map of Ioannina Prefecture with the works of Metsovo and Tournovo wood sculptors

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Triantaphyllos Sioulis

© Prefecture of Ioannina
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During the Byzantine period the iconostases were mainly of marble. In the post Byzantine period the norm became wood sculptured iconostases, which exhibit generally a tripartite division in the height.
Lower down we observe between the pessary sections shields, which have remained unadorned or that were painted in the 16th and 17th century, more rarely though they carry a sculptured decorative. During the 18th century upper shields were also added, and from the middle of the century onwards they carry a richly sculptured decorative. The Despotic icons that have been placed over the shields are held together by sculptured columns or small pillars, which extend upwards between the pessaries for the shields. The small pillars were usually twisted and they carried an external decorative as well as the pessaries. Since the middle of the 18th century, for an elevation of the Despotic icons, lunettes were added above them. Later, in the 19th century, the upper cetambedes were also added, which looked like metopes. These together with the upper shields (or the lower cetambedes) and the lunettes incorporated sculptured depictions that were relevant to the Despotic icon that they framed, together with which they constituted a uniform ensemble.
Above this ensemble, on to the epistyle, there were added many decorative zones and rows with small icons, which formed the massive and imposing entablature. The embossed zones incorporated subjects such as the Root of Jesse, the tendril, birds, animals, etc. They were rendered as schematics in the beginning (16th century, mid 17th), externally later (2nd half of the 17th, the 18th and the 19th century). Fine embossed fascias were interposed between them.
Finally, above the entablature, there dominate the sorrowful, namely the Cross, which has been supported upon dolphins or stepping on dragons, with the small icons of the Theotokos (= the Virgin Mary) and of Aghios Ioannis the Theologian in a mournful stance. On many occasions this zone was filled with a rich floral decorative that would occupy the entire length of the iconostasis, which was also known as the «branch». In this manner the iconostases on many occasions reached as far as the ceiling of the church, especially from the 18th century onwards.
In relation to their decoration, in earlier times until the 17th century, this was mainly floral, which has been attributed to the technique of a low bas relief or a model technique. Later, from the 18th century onwards, the depictions became richer and they were rendered with the deep embossing technique and the perforated technique. Depictions with subjects that were drawn from mythology, old Christian symbols, scenes from the Holy Bible and the history of the church as well as the lives of the saints or from the animal and floral kingdom and daily life, prevailed. The influences in art from the West by the Baroque (17th – 18th century) and Rococo (18th –19th century) styles are truly evident. In accordance with the regions where we encounter the iconostases (Crete, Eptanesa, Epirus, etc.), we note that these have accepted fewer or more influences. However the wood sculptors did not adopt these mechanically, but they combined them with their own local colour and in such a way, which indicates that they incorporated them harmoniously, until they had assimilated them.
It is certain that both the Baroque technique as well as the elevation of the iconostasis to the ceiling, is also due to the influence on the art by Russia of the same faith, which in fact during the years of the Turkish occupation was considered to be continuing the Byzantine tradition and accordingly provided the models to the Orthodox world.
From the beginning of the 20th century and within it, there was slowly instituted the neo Byzantine style in the wood sculptured iconostases. The technical execution in which the sculptured decorative were rendered in was either pressing or perforation. The decorative is almost a level sculpture, which has been inspired mainly by the floral kingdom. From a morphology perspective, they all refer to the earlier marble Byzantine iconostases. There are certainly not absent, during the same period the iconostases that we have classified under the neo Classical style, which were mimicking in this regard the classical wood sculptured works in the 2nd half of the 18th and the 19th century.
A group of similar iconostases, in terms of the structure, the execution technique and the subject matter, as well as of the same period (17th century), have been encountered in the churches of Aghios Nikolaos at Metsovo, The Transformation of the Saviour at Anthochorion, of Aghios Athanasios at Prosgolion, etc.
However, in the next century (18th century) we have also encountered similar iconostases, in accordance with the influences that they had undergone, such as the churches of Aghia Paraskevi at Metsovo, the Repose of the Virgin Mary at Chrysobitsa, the Repose of the Virgin Mary at Prosgolion, etc.
Finally in the 19th century we have also encountered similar most noteworthy wood sculptured works in accordance with the period, such as at the church of the Transformation of the Saviour at Romano, of the Transformation of the Saviour at Botonosion, etc.