Stole of the Hierarchs, 17th century

3 November 2011

Dimensions: 25.5 x 128 cm., panel: 12.5 cm., hem: 18 cm.

The stole consists of an unbroken band of red silk. Six tassels hang from the hem. The two bands which hang from the shoulders are fastened at intervals with buttons. On the yoke, Christ is depicted as the Great High Priest, supplicating. On the chest, in the topmost band is the Annunciation, while in the rest of the panels are the figures of prophets and hierarchs, in pairs, in the following order:

St John the Baptist                              Prophet Zechariah

St Gregory the Theologian            St Hierotheus

St Nicholas                                              St Athanasius

These are shown under three-lobed arches, full-face, at full length. St John the Baptist holds an open scroll with his left hand and gives his benediction with his right, as does the prophet Zechariah, while the hierarchs hold closed gospel books and give their blessing. Each has his name written vertically at the side. The last division is decorated with carnations and roses, and the same floral decoration serves to separate the panels occupied by the saints.

Prophets and hierarchs follow after the scene of the Annunciation on a large number of stoles. On this vestment, in which the priest will celebrate the Divine Liturgy, the hierarchs have a place as the authors of it, who each day and in every place renew, in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the incarnation of the Word foreshadowed in the Annunciation. The figures are of the iconographic type determined by the Interpretation of Dionysios of Fourna.

In the matter of style, the stole has certain weaknesses. The design is awkward and the execution seems careless – but this may be the result of wear and use. The rendering of the figures is inelegant and in the spaces left in the upper part of the panels, the arches, the pattern calls for flowers. For the faces and exposed parts of the bodies, a wheat-coloured silk has been used, as can be seen in the case of the faces in the Annunciation, which are not worn. On the garments, silver thread is broken up by coloured threads – green, red, deep blue – thus creating the folds in broken isia stitch. The same stitch, with green silk, is used on the chair of the Virgin and on the columns which support the arches. The stitch used for the floral decoration is kasinaki, in pink, deep blue, and green.