The Catapetasma of Hagia Sophia and the phenomenon of Byzantine installations

Variant title
Catapetasma z Chrámu Boží Moudrosti v Konstantinopoli a byzantské oltářní instalace
Author: Lidov, Alexei
Source document: Convivium. 2014, vol. 1, iss. 2, pp. 40-57
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
Rights access
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The curtain, or Catapetasma, over the main altar table of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was not only an outstanding and unique art object of Byzantine culture, but also the most important liturgical object of the main cathedral of the Empire. Now lost, it has never been a particular subject of study. This article deals with interconnected topics around its reconstruction and interpretation. It proposes the existence of installations created in the space as a whole image made up of various objects – that is, when considered in terms of modern art. The analysis here shows that the Catapetasma played a critical role in such installations around Hagia Sophia's main altar table, where there was a special system of various crosses, votive crowns, veils, and other liturgical objects. The fact of such spatial compositions, which should not be analyzed in the traditional iconographic way, once again points to the necessity to formulate a new concept of image -paradigm – in this case, of an iconic curtain – that is distinct from one of flat images.
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