Stole of Radu Païsié, c.1530

3 November 2011

Dimensions: length; 143.5 cm., breadth: 20.5 cm., length of intervals: 17 x 8 cm.

The material which forms the background of this stole is entirely covered by the embroidery. It is cut in a circle around the yoke, where the worn embroidery has been replaced.

The following figures are depicted in the eight intervals which follow:

           Moses                                                         Aaron

           David                                                           Solomon

           Prophet                                                     Prophet

           Prophet                                                     Prophet

           Martyr                                                       Martyr

           Martyr                                                       Martyr

           Radu Païsié                                              Marc

As Millet, who saw the vestment in 1918 and published it in 1947, reports, the names could no longer be read and the faces were obliterated. The figures turn to face one another in symmetrical fashion. They are tall and slender with lively and elegant movements, and are reminiscent of fine Byzantine works of the 14th century25.

As to the iconography, we find on the stole the established programme: prophets and martyrs below alternating with single and trefoil arches. The prophets hold unfurled or closed scrolls; Moses, however, holds the tablets of the Law and Aaron a censer. The martyrs hold crosses with two or three arms. The priest in the Office of Preparation (Proskomide) at the Holy Liturgy prays “for all the holy prophets and for all the holy martyrs, men and women”. After the commemoration of the Saints, the priest prays “for the memory and remission of sins of the blessed founders of this holy church”. For this reason, these persons pass in front of us on the stole, and the last interval is devoted to the memory of the donors (Fig. 371).

The donor in this case was the Voivode Radu Païsié. His name does not accompany the portraits. Some red lines which can be seen today and which one might suppose is the name obliterated by long use of the vestment are, according to Millet, the padding. Millet concludes, however, from the two other stoles of the same donor which are on the Holy Mountain that this is Radu Païsié and his son Marc. The stole should be dated to around 1530.

Radu Païsié had the curious fate, according to Millet, of living his life in three stages: as an ordinary layman, then as a monk, and finally as a voivode, and to have had three names, one at each stage: Peter, Païsios, Radu. The Radu of this vestment is distinguished from the other Vlach princes who had the same name by his monastic name, which he used chiefly in his dealings with the Church, as on this stole and on another which he dedicated to the Esphigmenou Monastery (1537), on the ‘double podea’ of the Iveron Monastery (1545), and on the diptychs (pomelnik) of the Great Meteoron Monastery, as well as on his portrait from the Curtea de Arges Church, now in the Museum of Religious Art in Bucha­rest26.