Orthodox icon | Easter, the 12 Great Feasts and 4 Festivities | Palekh | 24552


  • Typ: Russian icon
  • Painting school: Palekh
  • Age: 19th century
  • Size: 35 x 31 cm | 13.8 x 12.2 in


Orthodox icon | Easter, the 12 Great Feasts and 4 Festivities | Palekh | 24552.

The icon depicts various significant events and feasts in the Christian tradition, presented in a detailed and ornate manner. At the center of the icon, the focus is on Christ’s resurrection from the grave and His descent into the realm of the dead. Christ is shown standing triumphantly on the gates of the underworld, pulling Adam and Eve out of death’s grasp. They are accompanied by righteous figures from the Old Testament, led by an angel and John the Baptist.

Moving from left to right, the icon portrays the following feasts and events:

  1. Birth of the Mother of God: This scene showcases Anna, depicted in a half-lying position, with attendants nearby. Anna’s husband, Joachim, is shown in a prayerful posture at the head end. Below them, the icon portrays the bathing of the child, with a servant carefully tending to the child and checking the water in a container.
  2. Presentation of the Mother of God: Mary, at the age of three, is taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to be raised there. The icon presents Mary’s encounter with the high priest Zacharias in front of the temple. They stand on the temple stairs, with Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, and a virgin standing behind them.
  3. Pentecost: This feast, occurring seven weeks after Easter on a Sunday, is symbolized by the hospitality of Abraham. The icon depicts the story from the book of Genesis where Abraham receives a visit from three men, seen as a representation of the divine Trinity. Abraham is shown kneeling before the angels, who sit at a table under the Terebinth of Mamre.
  4. Annunciation of the Mother of God: The icon portrays the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary, announcing her role as the Mother of God. God the Father instructs Gabriel with the message, while Gabriel is depicted again on the left, pausing and contemplating whether to deliver the news to Mary.
  5. Birth of Christ: This scene depicts the birth of Jesus in a cave. The Blessed Mother is shown resting, with the infant Jesus lying in a cloth in the crib. The three wise men are portrayed next to the crib, while Joseph sits thoughtfully. An old man symbolizing doubt is also present.
  6. Presentation of Jesus at the Temple: On the fortieth day after Jesus’ birth, the Blessed Mother, accompanied by Joseph, brings Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate Him to God. They encounter the aged Simeon and the prophetess Hanna in the temple. Simeon holds the child Jesus in his arms.
  7. Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: The icon represents the Gospel narrative of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Jesus stands unclothed in the river, with John the Baptist next to Him. Angels are shown on the opposite riverbank, and the Holy Spirit appears as a dove above. Christ blesses with His right hand.
  8. Entry into Jerusalem: Celebrated on the Sunday before Holy Week, after Lazarus Saturday. The icon portrays Christ riding a donkey as He enters Jerusalem, with His disciples and the people greeting Him.
  9. Transfiguration of Christ: Jesus, along with His disciples Peter, James, and John, ascends a mountain, where He is transfigured in glory. The icon depicts Christ shining in white garments, with the prophets Moses and Elijah standing next to Him. Peter, James, and John kneel beneath them.
  10. Ascension of Christ: Celebrated 40 days after Easter on a Thursday, in the 6th week after Easter. The icon shows Christ ascending to heaven on the Mount of Olives before the eyes of His disciples. The Mother of God is depicted beneath Him with raised hands, while the apostles stand around her. Two angels carry a round mandorla with Christ.
  11. Dormition of the Mother of God: The icon represents the “falling asleep” of the Blessed Mother, who ascended to heaven like Christ. She is depicted lying on a bed, with the apostles standing at the head and foot. Christ stands on a golden background, carrying a child wrapped in cloth, symbolizing the soul of the Mother of God.
  12. The Resurrection of Lazarus: This scene depicts the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary. Lazarus falls ill and dies, but Jesus arrives after four days and raises him from the dead. Jesus is shown with a group of apostles, and the dark cave is depicted on the right. Jesus extends His hand to Lazarus, who is already risen and wrapped in bandages. Martha and Mary bow before Christ.
  13. Beheading of the Prophet John the Baptist: The icon commemorates the martyrdom of John the Baptist, who was beheaded at the instigation of Herodias. Herodias’ daughter demanded John’s head as a reward for her dance. The icon represents this tragic event.
  14. The Feast of the Cross/Exaltation of the Cross: The icon shows the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Makarios, presenting the cross of the Lord to the people in the presence of Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena. Helena took a portion of the cross and the nails, while the cross itself was placed in a silver chest.
  15. The Holy Prophet Elijah: The icon represents the prophet Elijah, who lived during the time of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in Israel. It depicts his ascent to heaven on a fiery chariot, witnessed by his disciple Elisha. The icon also references Elijah’s prediction of drought and his sustenance by ravens.
  16. Pokrov (Protection and Intercession of the Mother of God and Saint Romanos the Melode): The icon shows the Blessed Mother appearing in the Blachernae Cathedral in Constantinople, holding a protective cloth over the believers. Saint Romanos the Melode, a poet in Byzantine literature, is also depicted.

The icon’s background features a meticulously crafted, gold-leafed surface adorned with intricately engraved ornaments. The miniature painting within the icon showcases the distinctive style of the renowned Palekh painting school, displaying great attention to detail and precision.

Source: Orthodox icon | Easter, the 12 Great Feasts and 4 Festivities | Palekh | 24552 © Ikonen Mautner. Typing errors, other errors or changes reserved. For more information: “Das Synaxarion. Die Leben der Heiligen der Orthodoxen Kirche.” (http://www.prodromos-verlag.de/buecher.html) and Joachim Schäfer: Das Ökumenische Heiligenlexikon – https://www.heiligenlexikon.de

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Orthodox icon | Easter, the 12 Great Feasts and 4 Festivities | Palekh | 24552
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