Hanging with Christian Images

Hanging with Christian Images

500s

Plain weave (tabby) with inwoven tapestry weave; dyed wool, undyed linen

Overall: 110.5 x 76.8 cm (43 1/2 x 30 1/4 in.); Mounted: 120.9 x 87 x 3.9 cm (47 5/8 x 34 1/4 x 1 9/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1982.73

Fun Fact

The two peacocks in the upper half of this composition represent immortality. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that the body of the peacock did not decay after death and when this imagery was adopted by Christianity, the bird came to be associated with resurrection.

Description

The significance of this rare hanging with Christian symbols outweighs its fragmentary condition. It likely served as a decorative wall hanging in a church or a home. Beneath the entablature of the arch decorated with interlacing bands stand three young men dressed in tunics, their arms raised. They may represent the three Hebrews who refused to worship a golden idol, and when cast into the fiery furnace, remained unharmed due to God’s deliverance (Daniel 3:19–30). Above them is a Christogram formed by the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, X (chi) and P (rho), flanked by the letters alpha and omega. Beneath the arch, an ankh, an ancient Egyptian symbol of life, is framed by two birds. Another Christogram appears above the arch between two peacocks. The significance of the combined use of these images and symbols lies in their invocation of Christ’s redemptive and life-giving power.

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