Figurative Orthodox Cross Microsculptures (Mount Athos), XVI Secolo

Figurative Orthodox Cross Microsculptures (Mount Athos), XVI Secolo

Figurative Orthodox Cross, made of boxwood, masterfully sculpted and carved on both sides, with scenes depicting the life and passion of Christ, often set within architectural structures.

The Cross, created in the 16th century, was used for blessings, according to Orthodox liturgical use, and was later inserted into a gilded bronze shrine, applied only to the sides, suitable for keeping it solid and compact, as well as highlighting its multiple scenes represented, facilitating their complete vision and reading of the extraordinary carvings and microscopic inscriptions present.

There are many distinctive notes that characterize and make this Cross very rare; the era in which it was built, the very refined execution of the sculptures and carvings of architectural environments, but above all and not least the myriad of images of characters and animals contained in it, which appear to be 187 distributed on both facades, in a space ranging from 19.5 cm high x 13.5 cm wide x 3 centimeters deep.

Some similar crosses are preserved in the Treasure Museum of the Cathedral of Monza, in the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan (Italy), in the Diocesan Museum of Feltre and some others in various museums scattered throughout the world, all dating back to the 16th century.

Regarding these Crosses, the opinion regarding the exact place of origin is not entirely univocal, recent research agrees on a Greek origin, which can be extended to the regions of Orthodox observance and a production over a very long period of time.

Furthermore, these Crosses are spoken of by Greek, Cypriot or Balkan authors but also by a rather mysterious creator, Zuan Zorzi (Giovanni Giorgio Lascaris) known as "Pirgotele", perhaps Greek by birth or only by origin, active in Venice, the Veneto and all the large territories subject to the influence of the "Serenissima".

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