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Theotokos Hodegetria icon

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Theotokos Hodegetria icon
© Cecilia Lawrence
July 23rd 2018
Acrylic, ink, chip-carving on basswood
8x10 inches
About 17.5 Hours


"It is truly right to bless thee, O Theotokos,
ever blessed, and most pure, and the Mother of our God.
More honorable than the cherubim,
and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim.
Without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify thee."

~ Axion Estin

Here's my matching icon of the Theotokos Hodegetria I did for an art contest paired with my icon of Christ the Teacher. This is also my first Byzantine-style icon of both Christ the Teacher and the Theotokos Hodegetria, and I'm happy with how they turned out! :D The colors of the original are much deeper and richer, but alas, neither my scanner or any picture I took were able to really bring it out, so this is the best I could do. This icon of the Theotokos is based on other models typical of the Hodegetria type, such as this one, as well as the Iveron icon.

The icon of the Theotokos Hodegetria depicts the Virgin Mary in her traditional robes of red and blue decorated with three stars (one above her forehead and the other two on either shoulder) symbolizing her perpetual virginity. In the Hodegetria icon type (which means "She who shows the Way" or "Directress"), Mary holds the Christ Child with her left arm while she points to Him with her right hand, thus pointing away from herself and directing the viewer's attention to God as a Child in her arms, Who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Light" (John 14:6). The Child Jesus is clothed in robes of white and gold symbolizing His divinity. He raises His right hand in a gesture of blessing and clutches a small scroll in his left hand. The two pointing fingers of His right hand signify the union of the two natures of Christ (both human and divine) and the three fingers touching symbolize the union of the Holy Trinity. The words "I AM" are written in His halo, signifying His Divinity, referencing the words spoken by God to Moses when He revealed His Name as "I AM" in Exodus 3:14. The "IC XC" is the traditional Greek abbreviation of "Jesus Christ" (ΙΗϹΟΥϹ ΧΡΙϹΤΟϹ). The titlos above which indicate a sacred name I have turned into a decorative alpha and omega, as a reference to Revelations 22:13: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." The letters “ΜΡ ΘΥ” above Mary’s head are Greek abbreviations for “Μήτηρ (του) Θεοῦ” which means “Mother of God.” The stars in Mary’s halo are a reference to the “crown of twelve stars” in Revelations 12:1.
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© 2018 - 2021 Theophilia
Comments38
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IoannisVas's avatar
Beautiful as the rest of your work! One small tip of importance in case you missed it! Always the fingers of Jesus have a certain position: The pinky alone stands as the letter I for Ιησούς (Jesus), the ring finger with the thumb are crossed so they form the letter X for Χριστός (Christ), the index and middle finger shape two possibilities: C for Cωτήρ (Savior) or V (greek letter N) for Νικά (Victorious). So Jesus Christ Savior or Jesus Christ Victorious
Theophilia's avatar
Thank you! :aww:

I intentionally made Christ's finger pose positioned the way they frequently are represented in Western art: arthive.com/res/media/img/orig… and www.lempertz.com/uploads/tx_le… and i.pinimg.com/originals/24/1d/5… and sammlung.staedelmuseum.de/imag… and media.nga.gov/iiif/public/obje…
Severusiana's avatar
Always I like very much icon of Theotokos , is very beautiful and lovely
Theophilia's avatar
Eruzhar's avatar
This is so beautiful. Plus, every time I see a Hodegetria Icon I imagine Our Lady saying "do whatever he tells you".
Theophilia's avatar
Indeed! That's the best explanation of this icon! :D
LouLou2807's avatar
GEEEEEEEE!!!! THIS IS SO AWESOME! She looks like she comes from a Greek Icon!
Theophilia's avatar
LouLou2807's avatar
You're soooo welcome!!! :hug:
rhunel's avatar
Theophilia's avatar
Libra1010's avatar
 Another extremely lovely icon Ms. Theophilia!
Theophilia's avatar
Libra1010's avatar
:) (Smile)  Thank You for posting such works to be appreciated!
BohemianBeachcomber's avatar
Similar comments as Christ the Teacher...Very deep, rich, brilliant colors and super cool background texture! :w00t: And thanks for explaining about the stars on the head and shoulders; I used to wonder what those symbolized.
Theophilia's avatar
Thank you! Yes, the three stars represents her perpetual virginity, specifically that she was a virgin before, during, and after childbirth. :nod: In many icons Jesus often covers up one of the stars, but in this one He didn't. :nod:
BohemianBeachcomber's avatar
Tamuril2's avatar
Very nice. I love when I get alerts about your new icons. They're all so beautiful, and are a big highlight to my evenings. :D
Theophilia's avatar
Awww, why thank you!!! That's so lovely to hear! :meow:
Hei-in-Tampa's avatar
Is this a digital painting or did you actually use a board, gesso, paint, and then photograph the finished work.

It’s lovely. BTW.
Theophilia's avatar
Yes, it's traditional. I listed the media in the description. I carved the designs on basswood (with a little wood-burning as well), then used acrylic paint for the figures. Most of the gold is gold acrylic paint, but I also used some gold ink and sepia ink to touch it up. :nod: I then scanned it in, since, alas, none of my photos of it were turning out well due to issues with lighting (the surface is covered with glossy polyurethane, which makes the colors richer but also makes it difficult to photograph because of glare).

And thank you! It was a pleasure to work on! :aww:
Origihelm's avatar
Incredible painting, although in constructive criticism I would have to point out that Jesus looks proportionately more like a tiny adult than a child. His shoulders should be more square, and his entire body generally more squat, however the head is fine.
Theophilia's avatar
Thank you so much!!! :aww: Yes, as Hei-in-Tampa pointed out, it's part of the Byzantine style of icons that children are depicted as miniature adults with the same proportions as adults. In my own style I try to keep the proportions as naturalistic as possible, but since I was doing this icon specifically in the Byzantine style, I didn't. However, I did make Jesus' head a bit larger than is typical in that style, simply because I felt that it was still too small. :nod:
Hei-in-Tampa's avatar
I think that’s deliberate. Eastern Orthodox iconography rarely depicts the infant Christ or saints with child proportions. There’s a theological reason but I don’t recall how to correctly articulate it.
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