Sister Archagali of Akritohori Convent, Pantokrator
Although panel painting is the classic medium for Orthodox icons, holy images can be produced in a much wider range of media, including textiles. This exquisite embroidery icon features Christ as Pantokrator (Greek for the “Almighty”). Christ’s face is not described in the Bible, but since the sixth century the most common likeness of Christ is the one shown here, a bearded face with long hair parted in the middle. Based on an authoritative type long associated with Zeus, this icon is intended to emphasize the divinity of Christ, made visible through his humanity. Textile icons commonly used in the Orthodox Church include the epitaphios, an embroidered cloth with the full-length corpse of Christ used to re-enact the burial and resurrection of Christ on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Embroidery is often the province of women, and it is the skilled nuns such as Sister Archagali who often supply liturgical textiles and vestments for the monks of Athos.