Epimanikia, Introduction

3 November 2011

Liturgical cuffs – epimanikia – are long over-cuffs with which the lower part of the sleeves of the alb worn by the clergy are covered. Until the 12th century, they were, like the epigonation, an exclusively episcopal vestment, used in baptisms for practical reasons. In the 15th century they are found as a vestment of presbyters, and after the Fall of Constantinople, their use extended to deacons.

The liturgical cuffs symbolise the bonds in which the Saviour was led to Caïaphas, a scene often encountered on cuffs belonging to monasteries. Sometimes, however, the scene depicted on them has nothing to do with their symbolism, but is adapted to the surface of the material. The Annunciation, scenes from the Dodekaorton, and Christ with prophets were prevalent from the 16th century, while in modern times the decoration has been simplified to a cross on each cuff.