Sunday, 12 March 2017


The techniques of iconography one needs to know about icons.
The branch of knowledge that deals with the representative art in the form of pictures, drawings, figures or images or icons is called  iconography.

Image result for Theotokos of VladimirThe expression icon was evolved in the West mainly in a Christian context.   “Icon” or ikon means a holy painting, usually on wood, of Jesus Christ, or of a person considered holy by some Christians, especially in eastern countries.

 “The same word “icon” (ikon, Gr. eikon) refers to a figure, or a representation of a divine person in painting, mosaic, sculpture, etc., which is specially meant for worship or which is in some way or other associated with the rituals connected with the worship of different divinities.”

The Greek meaning of this expression, eikōn, has denote sensible representations of particular deities or saints receiving the devout homage of their bhaktas or exclusive worshippers.
Image result for greek gods An icon is what is constructed and also what is utilized. It not only delights, but serves a purpose.  

According to Michael Kelly, “The icon is a story in images, though it is not a story about the events of daily life, but of events that are unique, miraculous, and significant for the whole of humankind. It contains nothing contingent, temporary, or insignificant:  it is a generalized, laconic(brief) image.
The Icons and Images in Indian Temples

Image result for hindu God icon

The Development of Hindu Iconography

Humans not only love to manufacture icons as representations and symbols, but feel a longing for them. It has become an urge for a human to make sculptures of the gods. This has found expression in most religions. An icon as an object of reverence satisfies not only the religious impulses of its user, but the artistic expectations also. It develops a vital quality and a protective role.

The Purposefulness Of Icons  

·       to the spiritual phenomena of the heavenly world, which are beyond representation,
·       the icon lifts the human mind and spirit to that world, uniting them with it and
·        allowing them to share in the infinite delight of the spiritual creatures that surround the lord…
·       As the object of prolonged and deep contemplation(thinking),
·       it helps initiate spiritual concentration and leads to meditation and spiritual ascent…
·       It is in its essence beyond time and space.
·        In the icon, believers find an eternal spiritual cosmos, participation in which is his life’s goal for a member of the orthodox community.
·       In the icon, the unity of the heavenly and the earthly, and the communion of all creatures before the face of God, is accomplished.
·        The icon is the symbol and embodiment of sobornost (companionship).

 From the above explanations it is clear that iconography, as it is understood, is that branch of knowledge which deals with the representative art such as portraits, figures, artistic images or symbols, and pictures. To be precise, it is the study of religious figures or drawings of objects.

According to Panofsky, there are three specific levels in defining iconography and the three levels of description, analysis and interpretation mentioned below come together to form a “synthesis.”

He outlines the three specific levels thus:
(1) The pre iconological level of description of the primary and natural subject matter, the motifs or “pure forms” that are “carriers of primary and natural meanings,”;
(2) the iconographical level that recognizes the conventionality of images and their themes, demanding knowledge of their literary and textual sources and defining a “history of types”;
(3) the iconological level that discloses the “intrinsic meaning” or symbolical values of a work, demanding a synthetic intuition of the work, familiarity with the essential tendencies of the human mind,” and conditioned by “personal psychology.”

Iconography Is A Method Applicable To The History Of Art
In Indian sculpture, painting, and iconography, the majority of the figures are based on the human body. All natural shapes are said to be with life. Human body is the place where the outer world is transformed. It is also the scene of the transformation of the self. In this transformed shape, the self is represented in art. The transformation results from an inner process of realization. It is not visible to the physical eye; it belongs to the the unseen. The world of the inner reality differs from the outer world but cannot exist without it.

Therefore, art serves as the meeting ground of the two worlds and relates to the transformation of the inner world to that of the outer.