Bisanzio 14th century

The canonical type of God's Mother Odigitria appears in Costantinopoli during Giustiniano's Empire, but the origin is probably in Siria.Towards the middle of the 5th century,under empress Pulcheria,a church was built dedicated to God's Mother Odigitria and later Michael III built a monastery in her honour.
The name Odigitria comes from "odos" and it means "She who shows the way".
Some think that the name derived from the fact that the condottieri "odigoi" went to pray in this monastery.
Others say that the name came from a street in the imperial city where there was a church called "of the guides",which had a similar image considered as one work of Luca,the Evangelist.Later on, it acquired a personal meaning because of the position of Maria's arm showing her Son as "the way,the truth and life".
Iconographic art always shows the Child Jesus with an adult expression of One who embodies "eternal wisdom".

Moreover he is sitting in a upright position here,portrayed as an adult,wearing a golden tunic hanging over his shoulder,which was inspired by wise old men's garments.
He holds the roll of the Holy Scriptures with his left hand and he blesses with his right hand as orthodox priests still do today by putting together their forefingers and middle fingers to symbolize the union of holy and human nature and thumb,ring finger and little finger together as a symbol of the Trinity.
The Mother is not openly protective towards Her Son but she turns her eyes to us so attracting our attention to Her Son with a wave of her right hand and her stretched out fingers.By doing so,she expresses receiving and offering at the same time,while holding Him up with her other arm.
Her head indirectly recalls a Byzantine dome and consequently the Holy Presence in the human being,temple of the Holy Ghost.
Above and beside the Mother's and Son's faces,there are the initials of "God's Mother" and "Jesus Christ" in Greek,but the iconographic expert has added the honorary title "She who is admirable".

Even the golden background has a deep spiritual meaning;this chromatic composition,characteristic of Byzantine icons should not be really considered only a colour in itself,but also an embodiment of deep values which go far beyond hearthly duality and light and shade,so gainig an absolute value.
The reproduction here represented is partly handmade, following iconographic rules and measures 30x25x2,5 cm. It weighs about 1 kilo.
The total effect of the icon is extremely suggestive. Please write to iconas@iconas.it for any further information or if you are interested in buying a copy of the reproduction.