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The “Arabic” Stole of Vatopediou Monastery: Traces of Islamic Material Culture in Late Byzantium

In: Muqarnas Online
Author:
Nikolaos Vryzidis
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Abstract

In the collection of Vatopediou Monastery (Mount Athos) there is a Late Byzantine vestment called by the monks the “Arabic stole” (arabikon ōmophorion). This quite unique vestment probably owes its name to two bands of embroidered Arabic inscriptions on the lower part of each end. It is one of the very few known Byzantine religious objects to feature legible Arabic inscriptions, a visible symbol of Islamic otherness juxtaposed with the standard Christian iconography. Apart from bringing into the spotlight a medieval vestment that has been overlooked by scholars, this article traces possible sources of artistic transfer through a discussion of texts and extant objects. Finally, it aims at expanding our understanding of the reception of Islamic art in Late Byzantium, a time of both political decline and cultural renewal.

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