Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 19th century CE. A beautiful and very well-preserved enameled bronze three bar cross, with the crucified Christ taking central place but smaller scenes in low relief detail surrounding him and creating the detailed, ornate effect that is so common to Orthodox religious art. The three-barred cross is the most symbolic and common shape in the Orthodox Church. The short topmost bar represents the sign reading "This is the King of the Jews" from Luke 23:38 that was nailed to the top of Christ's cross; the short bottom-most bar represents the foot rest on Christ's cross. This is depicted as slanted because it is believed that, in Christ's final moments, he kicked it out of place. The right side points upward to Heaven and the left side points downward to Hell. Here, the uppermost bar contains a scene of heaven; the lower bar shows a scene on earth. Size: 7.25" W x 14.1" H (18.4 cm x 35.8 cm)
At the bottom of the cross is a skull which represents the skull of Adam, and below his feet are four letters meaning, "The place of the skull became Paradise", to remind us that Adam lost Paradise through forbidden knowledge, and Christ will return us to it. Dark blue and white enamel give background details. Inscribed on the back is the Cross Prayer in Cyrillic.
Provenance: private Orange County, California, USA collection
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