Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium by Bissera V. PentchevaIcons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium by Bissera V. Pentcheva

Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium

byBissera V. Pentcheva

Paperback | May 28, 2014

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The Virgin Mary embodied power rather than maternal tenderness in the Byzantine world. Known as the Mother of God, she became a guarantor of military victory and hence of imperial authority. In this pioneering book, Bissera Pentcheva connects the fusion of Marian cult and imperial rule with the powers assigned to images of this All Holy woman.

Drawing upon a wide range of sources and images, from coins and seals to monumental mosaics, Pentcheva demonstrates that a fundamental shift in the Byzantine cult—from relics to icons—took place during the late tenth century. Further, she shows that processions through the city of Constantinople provided the context in which Marian icons emerged as centerpieces of imperial claims to divine protection.

Pentcheva breaks new ground, contending that devotion to Marian icons should be considered a much later development than is generally assumed. This new perspective has important implications not only for the history of imperial ritual but also for understanding the creation of new Marian iconography during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Centered upon fundamental questions of art, religion, and politics, Icons and Power makes a vital contribution to the entire field of medieval studies. It will be of interest as well to all those concerned with the cult of Mary in the Christian traditions of the East and West.

Bissera V. Pentcheva is Assistant Professor of Art History at Stanford University . Bissera V. Pentcheva is Assistant Professor of Art History at Stanford University .
Title:Icons and Power: The Mother of God in ByzantiumFormat:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 10.05 × 7.63 × 0.9 inPublished:May 28, 2014Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271064005

ISBN - 13:9780271064000


Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


Note on the Transliteration of Slavic and Greek

List of Emperors, A.D. 324–1204


Part I. The Theotokos and Imperial Power

1. Origins of the Civic Cult

2. The Avar Siege: Memory and Change

3. In the Context of War

Part II. Icons in Practice

4. The Hodegetria Icon and Its Tuesday Procession

5. The Blachernai Responds: The Icon of the “Usual Miracle”

6. Synthesis: Imperial Memorial Rites at the Pantokrator





Editorial Reviews

Icons and Power is an ambitious project, the results of which are a welcome and significant addition not only to the study of Byzantine culture and society, but more broadly to Marian studies as a whole. The book brings much-needed contour to the study of the image of Mary in the Byzantine east.”

—Vera Shevzov, Church History