**First Time At Auction**
Eastern Europe, Greece, ca. late 19th to early 20th century CE. A hand-carved wood prosphora seal featuring an image of the cross, each section adorned with traditional designs. The projecting handle also presents a seal incised with a Christogram. A prosphoron (leavened bread used in the Orthodox Christian and Greek Byzantine liturgies) is the bread offered for the Eucharist - made from only four ingredients - flour, salt, yeast, and water. It is comprised of two separate round pieces of leavened dough that are placed atop one another and baked together to form a single loaf; this double loaf symbolizing the dual nature of Christ, both human and divine. Prior to baking, each prosphoron is stamped with a seal like this, featuring the image of a cross incised with traditional designs and liturgical messages. Size: 4" W x 1.5" H (10.2 cm x 3.8 cm)
The practice of creating and using intricate prosphora seals like this example goes back to the days of Christian Persecution when decorative motifs were designed to camouflage the image of the cross. While in the Greek Orthodox tradition, worshippers bake a large, single bread, Slavic Orthodox Churches including the Russian Orthodox Church, follow a different tradition, baking five smaller prosphoras to commemorate the five prosphoras Jesus baked to feed the masses.
Provenance: private Ventura County, California, USA collection
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