Sacred Images and Sacred Power in Byzantium: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sacred Images and Sacred Power in Byzantium

1st Edition

By Gary Vikan


326 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789345
pub: 2003-10-29
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In these studies Gary Vikan has opened new perspectives on the daily life and material culture of Late Antiquity - more specifically, on icons and relics, and on objects revealing of the world of pilgrimage, the early cult of saints, and marriage. He contextualizes these familiar categories of object in the patterns of belief and ritual extracted from contemporary texts and the objects themselves, in order to understand their meaning within the everyday lives of those by whom and for whom they were made. The studies give a nuanced delineation of the inherently ambiguous boundary between conventional religion and magic, noting repeatedly those instances wherein the two are invoked in the same breath (and by way of the same art object), toward the same end. From this historically constructed matrix of art, belief, and ritual, the author derives an anthropologically defined paradigm of charisma and pilgrimage (applied in one essay, as an intriguing parallel, to deconstructing the world of a contemporary secular "saint," Elvis Presley).


'Dr Vikan … has been an innovator in opening up fields of interest in Byzantine art, notably in pilgrimage and the history of the icon. His papers are full of important juxtapositions of objects and ideas… At a time when 'icon' has become the most over-used word in the English language, Dr Vikan offers a very refreshing set of 'ruminations'.' The Art Newspaper 'A must for all libraries with research collections on Christian art.' International Review of Biblical Studies ’These are the sorts of writings that can spark the interest of undergraduates, graduates, and mature scholars alike.’ The Catholic Historical Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Sacred image, sacred power; Icons and icon piety in early Byzantium; Ruminations on edible icons: originals and copies in the art of Byzantium; Graceland as locus sanctus; Byzantine pilgrims' art; Early Byzantine pilgrimage devotionalia as evidence for the appearance of pilgrimage shrines; Pilgrims in magi's clothing: the impact of mimesis on early Byzantine pilgrimage art; 'Guided by land and sea': pilgrim art and pilgrim travel in early Byzantium; Art, medicine and magic in early Byzantium; Art and marriage in early Byzantium; Two Byzantine amuletic armbands and the group to which they belong; Two unpublished pilgrim tokens in the Benaki Museum and the group to which they belong; Early Christian and Byzantine rings in the Zucker family collection; The Trier ivory, adventus ceremonial, and the relics of St. Stephen; Meaning in Coptic funerary sculpture; Index.

About the Author

Dr Gary Vikan is Director of the Walters Art Museum and Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
HISTORY / General