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Culture Traditional forms of Art - Professions Silver work Epirus Ioannina

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11/09/2007
SECULAR AND ECCLESIASTICAL SILVERWORK

Comitech

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Silverwork objects are divided into two (2) main categories: secular and ecclesiastical.
A. SECULAR
With the term secular we refer to all objects related to daily life whether they are utilitarian or decorative. Their use had a decorative character, a social one, as it presented the economic and social façade but also one of security, as they could be easily transferred, hidden, even sold. The problem with the specific group is in their dating, as in their majority they do not bear a signature and the only dating information on most of these is the type of decoration or even their manner of construction.
Despite the large variety we can generally define some secular objects that are always found with the passage of time:
Rings: worn by men but also by women. They had an etched or bas-relief décor and very frequently used were also precious or semi-precious stones.
Kioustekia: Silver ornament of men’s attire. It was comprised of a system of chains and cast panels with a bas-relief or etched décor. The kioustekia were two kinds: a) those whose chains are adjusted on the chest in the shape of a cross and b) those adjusted at the height of the waist (“asimozounaro”- silver belt). The second are simpler and have cast panels on the ends, as behind these are found small hooks for keeping them in place.
Household implements: They include the sum of household effects, whether they are utilitarian or decorative. Here we may mention the zarfia (silver cases for glasses or cups), service sets, various types of vessels, pans, fruit-bowls, mirrors, cutlery, lamps, etc.
Weaponry: In this term we include guns (front loading in the specific era) as well as various types of knives and swords. Guns have the decoration on the holding system (butt, grip etc.). This varies depending on the owner of the gun and in many cases it was quite complex. In knives and swords, the décor is on both the handle and the blade, as well as on the sheath. On the blade, the etching technique is used, even though the design is simplified, while more carefully done on the remaining parts.
Palaskes (bandolier): Silver, usually, rectangular cases for the holding and use of gunpowder. They bear a bas-relief or etched décor, usually abstract.
Collars: Valuable ornament of women’s attire made of cast parts, which is fastened with two small hooks on the cloth, at the height of and surrounding the neck.
Clasp (kemeri): Made of two portions that join in the middle with clasping. Its shape is round, oval, rectangular, panel-shaped or a combination of the above. It bears a complex décor, bas-relief or wired, etched mother of pearl, precious stones and glass mass.
Earrings: They are usually complex in construction, while simpler ones are still found.
Trachilia: Bridal ornament made of a series of chains which held coins.
Belt: Usually cloth but also metallic, made of cast panels or wired portions. The two ends are joined with a clasp.
Amulet (xaimali): This was a box of various shapes which held an amulet inside and was worn with a small chain around the neck.











B. ECCLESIASTICAL
With the term ecclesiastical we refer to the sum of objects used by the Church, whether they have a functional character or a utilitarian one.
Holy Chalice: Made of the calyx, stem and the base. Does not comprise a unified implement but its portions are usually screwed together. The calyx many times is made of solid silver and is usually supported in a socket that bears a rich décor. To the contrary, it itself does not bear any décor except on the area of the lip, where an inscription may be found or an etched simple décor. The remaining portion with the base is decorated richly and with variety.
Artoforio (Bread box): It is a holy vessel inside which is kept the pre-Blessed Bread. Usually its shape is church-shaped, while its size and décor vary.
Star: Made of two plates, in the shape of a Π or semi-circular that form a cross, and is placed on the plate in order to hold its cover so as not to touch the Bread. It is deemed to symbolize the star of Bethlehem while the plate symbolizes the Manger. Its décor varies from simple to elaborate.
Diskos or plate: Inside is placed the Bread during Mass. Its décor is usually simple. Its accessory is the Star.
Talisman: Held by the Priest and usually has a round shape and elaborate décor.
Cherubim: Used in processions and other rites of the Church. Their shape is usually round and scenes decorate both sides. The central medallion represents figures (Christ, Virgin Mary) or entire scenes, which are surrounded by the Orders of Angels. Various techniques are used in the elaborate décor.
Zeon: A small vessel in which is transported to the Priest the “zeon” water (warm water) for the preparation of the Holy Communion. Its décor is usually simple.
Censer: The censer usually has a round shape and especially its cover the shape of a dome or church cupola. Its décor, embossed or bas-relief is very elaborate.
Pastoral clasp: Is part of the pastoral attire during Mass but also other rites of the Church. It is comprised of two portions joined at the waist with clasping. Its shape is round, oval, rectangular, panel-shaped or a combination of the above. It bears an elaborate décor, bas-relief or wired, etched mother of pearl, precious stones and glass mass.
Oil lamp: Oil lamps are comprised of an oval base inside which is placed the glass receptacle. Three chains hold the stem and are joined at its end with a disc, where there is a link for hanging it on a support point. They are usually cast and bear a décor that is bas-relief, etched, perforated or wired.
Katzio: A type of censer used more in monasteries and less in parish churches. The one part comprises the censer, while the other is the long handle. Also, at the center of the handle there is another handle perpendicular to the long handle for the ease of its use. The handle is essentially a plate with an abstract décor or one of various scenes. Small bells are attached to its end.
Lavida (spoon): Accompanies the Chalice and essentially it is a spoon with a long stem, at the end of which there is usually a cross. The décor is simple.
Larnakes (caskets): Is a special type of sepulcher, inside which is kept the relics of the saint. Its particular meaning, which originates from the purpose of its construction, leads to its elaborate décor with scenes of the life of the saint and his death or his martyrdom.
Reliquaries: Chests – boxes inside which are kept the holy remains. Their design is dependant upon the holy remains they contain and are decorated with an elaborate bas-relief or etched décor or abstract or with representations of the saints and scenes from their lives.
Lance: It is essentially a small knife with the shape of a spear. It is used for the cutting of the Bread. Its décor is simple and usually its handle ends in a cross.
Candelabra: The candelabra have a height of about 1.7 m. and are placed inside the main church. They are hammered and cast and are made of bronze or also silver.
Chrismal: Small in size with a long thin neck, inside which is kept the Holy Myrrh. As it is connected with the sacrament of the Baptism, it is usually decorated with the respective scene.
Ecclesiastical spatula: Even though its shape is identical to the one used by builders, its character is symbolic, as it is used during the laying of the foundation of churches.
Icon “Apron” (casing): The silver casing of a portable icon is so called, which may cover the entire iconographical theme except the faces, or a portion of it. The décor of the “apron” is not independent but essentially follows even the details of the painted surface it covers.
Sprinkler or kanni: A small vessel with an oval shape and conical end at the neck, that bears a perforated head. Used as a “sprinkler” with rosewater during religious rites.
Crucifixes: Depending on their use crucifixes are divided into blessing, Sanctification, litany and those worn upon the chest. The blessing and sanctification crucifixes look alike, and their main difference is in the existence (sanctification) or not of a base (blessing). These crucifixes are made of wood with relief scenes which have a silver frame. The décor of the frame is usually rich and the techniques applied vary. In addition, upon many crucifixes are inlaid precious or semi-precious stones, while in some cases they are gold plated. The litany crucifixes are larger in size, are supported on a wooden staff and primarily used in processions. Finally, the crucifixes worn upon the chest are part of the attire of the priests and vary in size, décor and the luxuriance depending on the axiom of the priest.
Gospel Bookbinding: This is the silver outer cover of the Gospel. Usually on the one side is represented the Descent to Hades and the other the Crucifixion of Christ, while in the corners there are the four Evangelists or their symbols. However, there are bindings that represent the Twelve Memorial Events, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and other scenes, such as the Joshua tree, while they also depict figures of the Prophets. The type of binding differs depending on the period but also financial ability. As such we encounter bindings made of a unified sheet or panels affixed to the gospel. Aside from these the wire technique is also used but also precious or semi-precious stones.
Wedding wreaths: Made of sheet upon which there are varied combinations of décor. They are silver or gold plated and belong to the church, where they are returned after the sacrament of marriage.
Offerings: Are dedications of believers which are placed mainly on portable icons. Their theme varies and most are related to cures and rescue from danger. Their construction is relatively simple and essentially they are made of a plate, whose form and design is shaped by a mold.