Stole with the Dodekaorton, 15th century

3 November 2011

Dimensions: 143.5 x 27.5 cm., diameter of the medallions: 10 cm.

The sea-blue material of the background is entirely covered by the silver-embroidery. The continuous band of the stole has embroidered on it, in medallions, the Dodekaorton, with four secondary episodes, two borrowed from the Passion: the Scourging and Christ led to His Passion, and two from the Resurrection: the Myrrh-bearing Women and Doubting Thomas, which follow the liturgical calendar of the 1st and 2nd Sundays after Easter. The Scourging is a Latin icono­graph­ic subject. On the neck, Christ is depicted as Great High Priest. This is followed by the scenes from the Dodekaorton in the following pattern:

                    Christ the Great High Priest

Annunciation                                   Nativity

Presentation in the Temple          Baptism

Transfiguration                                 Raising of Lazarus

Entry into Jerusalem                     Scourging

Christ led to Crucifixion              Crucifixion

Descent into Hell                             Doubting Thomas

Women at the Tomb                      Ascension

Pentecost                                              Dormition of the


Decoration                                               Decoration

The medallions are united to one another by small circles filled with floral crosses. In the space which remains free on either side of the cross are schematised heads of facing dragons whose tails are joined in pairs and intertwine in a heart-shaped decorative motif. The scenes depicted are followed by a small interval with an octagonal star, which is repeated on the end of the stole. Between these two small intervals is a larger broad one on the edge, decorated with squares arranged diagonally and forming the shape of a Z and crosses.

The inscriptions, all in Greek, in ligatures which do not always complete the word and are generally poorly spelt, alter the titles of the scenes: for example, “The Lord come [ercho­menos] to crucifixion”, instead of “led [helko­menos]”.

The whole vestment is embroidered in silver wire and silver thread in straight riza, kamares, and broken isia. The coloured silks used for the faces and the objects break the monotony of the silver thread and successfully produce iridescence on the material.

Millet, who published the vestment, attributed it to Moldavia in the period of Alexander the Good (1401-1433), on the grounds of its similarity with a stole, the gift of this prince to the Bistrita Monastery, and with another belonging to the Esphigmenou Monastery, an af­finity which is confirmed by the identically erroneous inscriptions23. However, in the time of Alexander the Good, Moldavia was under the suzerainty of Vladislav, King of Poland, and it would have been difficult for it to have such advanced workshops. Moreover, the epitaphios which is a gift of Alexander the Good of the year 1428, comes, as we have already shown, from the Greek world24.