Eastern Europe, Greece, ca. 19th century CE. A finely carved wood bread stamp, with a hand-carved motif of Saint Nicholas in the center of the stamp, surrounded by Greek letters. He wears his characteristic omophorion, decorated with repeated crosses. On the back is a projecting, rectangular wood handle with a deeply carved cross. Size: 1.65" L x 3.8" W x 6.75" H (4.2 cm x 9.7 cm x 17.1 cm)
Bread stamps, known as prosphora (for "that which is offered") seals, are used to decorate the bread for the Eucharist in the Orthodox church. The practice of using elaborate motifs to decorate the bread goes back to the period of Christian Persecution, when decorative motifs were used to mask the image of the cross.
St. Nicholas is one of the favorite saints of Orthodox Christianity, a priest who fervently studied scripture from the earliest age, and who ultimately became a bishop renowned for his kindness to his flock and his zeal in fighting false gods. He attended the First Ecumenical Council in 325 CE and helped proclaim the Nicean Symbol of Faith.
Provenance: Ex-private Ventura County, CA collection
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