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Christianity and Monasticism in Upper EgyptVolume 1: Akhmim and Sohag$
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Gawdat Gabra and Hany N. Takla

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9789774161223

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774161223.001.0001

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Toward an Understanding of the ‘Akhmim Style’ Icons and Ciboria

Toward an Understanding of the ‘Akhmim Style’ Icons and Ciboria

The Indigenous and the Foreign1

(p.269) 23 Toward an Understanding of the ‘Akhmim Style’ Icons and Ciboria
Christianity and Monasticism in Upper Egypt

Gawdat Gabra

Hany N. Takla

American University in Cairo Press

The Akhmim ciboria and icons with saints displaying rosaries fit into the period between the inimitable Mattary and the sophisticated Ibrahim al-Nasih, who worked between the 1740s and 1780. It is art of a theological and artistic revival, of ecumenism but also of provincial restraint, and lacking major artists. Without documents this attribution remains preliminary. New discoveries in the illustrated and dated Coptic-Arabic manuscripts from the Akhmim region, presented by Father Bigoul al-Suriany in this volume, will expand our knowledge. The meaning of the rosary as the symbol of the Coptic Catholic faith or as a sign of modernity has to be further researched. Christians in Upper Egypt cling to their traditions. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the modest Akhmim figurative art from the Beylik-Mamluk and missionary eras are those details that are loaned from late antique and early Coptic art in the Thebaide. Used more than a millennium later on hybrid Coptic-Arabic icons, these local attributes and gestures again demonstrate the remarkable survival of indigenous iconography.

Keywords:   Akhmim ciboria, icons, rosary, Coptic art, Upper Egypt, Thebaide

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