Petrov Alexander

Military armor in orthodox iconograpy and liturgy

Petrov Alexander (2017) "Military armor in orthodox iconograpy and liturgy ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2017, vol. 27, pp. 9-17 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV201727.9-17


The article is devoted to the two sides of the same theme. First, what place do armor and weapons have in Orthodox iconography. Secondly, how they are reflected in the liturgical clothes. On the examples the author shows the artistic features of the depiction of military attributes on icons and their symbolic meaning. The armor and weapons on the icon is or a symbol of duty in life, or a symbol of power, or as an attribute of the heavenly patron. It was found that the armor and weapons in the iconography are transforming their appearance. They were a reliable image and corresponded to the historical prototype, they became a nominal and decorative image. In the process of this transformation, distinct details of the image give way to general features. In other words, there is a reduction less significant to more significant. It is noted that the armor and weapons in the iconography are reduced to a symbol and lose utility signs. In addition, armor was subject to greater reduction than weapons. Armor and weapons are equally manifested in the liturgy and reflected in the vestments of the priest. On the icon they are a symbol of military service, in liturgy they are a symbol of spiritual warfare and spiritual ministry; therefore they do not have functional meaning. It is supposed that this transformation takes place because of several main reasons. This reason is artistic and aesthetic, it is associated with the requirements of the iconographic canon. Another reason is historical, it is associated with the practice of using lamellar type armor in the Orthodox East, as well as the fact that they gradually ceased to be used.


Orthodoxy, Iconography, Armor, Weapons, Vestments, Canon, Liturgics, Worship, Symbol, Attribute, History


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Information about the author

Petrov Alexander

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: Omsk theological seminary; 56 corp. 2, Lermontova st., Omsk 644024, Russian Federation; lecturer;
Email: petrov.av.phd@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.