The Religious Figural Imagery of Byzantine Lead Seals II: Studies on Images of the Saints and on Personal Piety, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Religious Figural Imagery of Byzantine Lead Seals II

Studies on Images of the Saints and on Personal Piety, 1st Edition

By John A. Cotsonis


296 pages

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Hardback: 9780367346997
pub: 2020-03-03
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The articles republished in this volume are ground-breaking studies that employ a large body of religious figural imagery of Byzantine lead seals ranging from the 6th to the 15th century. A number of the studies present tables, charts and graphs in their analysis of iconographic trends and changing popularity of saintly figures over time. And since many of the seals bear inscriptions that include the names, titles or offices of their owners, information often not given for the patrons of sacred images in other media, these diminutive objects permit an investigation into the social use of sacred imagery through the various sectors of Byzantine culture: the civil, ecclesiastical and military administrations. The religious figural imagery of the lead seals, accompanied by their owners’ identifying inscriptions, offers a means of investigating both the broader visual piety of the Byzantine world and the intimate realm of their owners’ personal devotions. Other studies in the volume are devoted to rare or previously unknown sacred images that demonstrate the value of the iconography of Byzantine lead seals for Byzantine studies in general.

This volume includes various articles focusing on sphragistic images of saints and on the religious imagery of Byzantine seals as a means of investigating the personal piety of seal owners, as well as the wider realm of the visual piety and religious devotions of Byzantine culture at all levels. A companion volume includes studies dedicated to the image of Christ, primarily found on imperial seals, various images of the Virgin, and narrative or Christological scenes.

Table of Contents



1. Saints & Cult Centers: A Geographic & Administrative Perspective in Light of Byzantine Lead Seals

2. An Eleventh-Century Seal with a Representation of Patriarch Antony II Kauleas

3. The Contribution of Byzantine Lead Seals to the Study of the Cult of the Saints (Sixth-Twelfth Century)

4. ’What Shall We Call You, O Holy Ones?’ (Martyrikon Automelon, Plagal 4th): Images of Saints and Their Invocations on Byzantine Lead Seals as Means of Investigating Personal Piety (6th-12th Centuries)

5. Choired Saints on Byzantine Lead Seals & Their Significance (Sixth-Twelfth Centuries): A Preliminary Report

6. An Image of Saint Nicholas with the ‘Tongues of Fire’ on a Byzantine Lead Seal



7. Onomastics, Gender, Office and Images on Byzantine Lead Seals: A Means of Investigating Personal Piety

8. Religious Figural Images on Byzantine Lead Seals as a Reflection of Visual Piety during the Iconoclastic Controversy

About the Author

John A. Cotsonis is the Director of the Archbishop Iakovos Library at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA, an Archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and a Byzantine art historian specializing in the iconography of Byzantine lead seals. He is the author of Byzantine Figural Processional Crosses which is regarded as the standard work on the subject.

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]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General