The National Museum of Art of Romania
Artwork description
Hammered silver, chiseled, engraved, enameled and parcel gilt
23,5 x 15,8 x 14,5 cm
Wallachia; southern-Danube workshop (?)
16th c.
Inv. 14083 / M 1446
Artwork location
Romanian Medieval Art Gallery, room 2

Donations made by the Craiovescu family to the Bistrița monastery in the early 16th c. also include this silver kivotion.  The reliquary is in the shape of a Byzantine five-domed church (one missing), the 'east side' of the oblong, rectangular nave ending with a polygonal apse representing the altar.

The miniature church is decorated with two superimposed rows of small rectangular plaques and Gothic arches and fleurons of Western influence. The engraved plaques represent important figures in Church history. On the ‘north side’ are prophets (Aaron with the flowering rod, Elijah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah) and hymnographers John of Damascus and Kosmas of Maiuma. On the 'east side' are saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Great and John Chrysostomos, authors of the Orthodox Church Liturgy, along with Saint Nicholas. The ‘south side’ features military saints Michael and Demetrios, Theodor of Tyre and Theodore Stratelates along with healer saints Kosmas and Damian. On the ‘west side’, marking the entrance into the church, is the icon of the Mother of God with Christ child (Hodegetria), flanked by Saint Peter and Paul (the plaque representing the latter is missing).

The blend of typical Orthodox iconography and Western decorative elements is a feature of many contemporary religious silver pieces preserved in Wallachia. This attests to the wide spread of decorative motifs, the far-reaching commercial connections local boyars and princes had, and, last but not least, to the workshop practices of lucrative producers who delivered such commissions.


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