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Sophia Gerogiorgi

INSCRIPTIONS ON A RELIQUARY
FROM NORTHERN EPIRUS
A he reliquary presented in this article is kept in the By
zantine and Christian Museum, Athens. Made of silver and
shaped as an oblong casket, it bears engraved vegetal and
figurai decoration. Represented on the lid is the scene of the
Transfiguration, framed by a baroque vegetal band. On the
two long sides are figures of prophets below an arcade: on
the front are the prophets David, Jesse, Solomon and one
whose name is obscured by a later lock, while on the back
are Daniel, Jonah, Habakkuk and Elijah. On one of the
narrow sides is a representation of the Nativity and on the
other of the Annunciation.
The type of casket-shaped reliquary is very common in the
Balkans, Asia Minor and Sinai, and its origins go back to the
early centuries of Christianity. This example displays affinity
in the themes and the arrangement of its iconographie pro-

gramme with a series of early nineteenth-century reliquaries


from the Ploponnse.
Its provenance is Northern Epirus and interest focuses
primarily on the information in its inscriptions. According to
these, it was made in 1776 by a priest called Adam from
Nikolitza, a Vlach-speaking village in the area of Korytsa
with a tradition in silversmithing, and one Diamantis. The
vessel is a collective dedication by Christians from neighbouring villages in the region of Tepeleni to the monastery
of the Dormition of the Virgin in the village of Konska.
These villages strenuously resisted the mass conversions to
Islam taking place in the eighteenth century, thanks to the
activity of educated clerics who, through their sermons and
by founding churches and schools, helped to keep the
Christian faith alive in the region.

34.
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1996, . 35-36.
35. , . , .. (. 11), . 166-167,372,383.

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