The Monumental Orthodox Icons of the Hexahemeron

The Monumental Orthodox Icons of the Hexahemeron

There is no more detailed description of the Creation of the world, which is called Hexahemeron, than in the Bible. The very first pages reveal the story of the way the world occurred in six days. The iconography of the Hexahemeron made its appearance at the end of the 15th century, under the influence of the treatises left by the Church Fathers. The icon composition became drastically complicated due to V. I. Khokhlov’s workshop, who added the images of saints to the borders. Let’s take a closer look at the Orthodox icons of the Hexahemeron and their monumental structure.

The biblical story of the Creation

According to the Christian tradition, God created the world in six days. On the first day, light and darkness occurred; the sky emerged on the second day; on the third day, God divided the earth and seas and planted the earth with plants; the creation of the Sun and the Moon occurred on the fourth day; on the fifth day, God created the animals; and on the sixth day, God created man. Even in the Old Testament times, the six days of Creation were related to the six days of the week, while the seventh day, when God “rested… from all His works” (Genesis 2:2), was related to the Sabbath day of rest.

The description of the Orthodox icons of the Hexahemeron

Orthodox icons of the Hexahemeron traditionally include the Etimasion, the Feasts of the six weekdays, the Deesis, and the Sabbath of All Saints.

The centerpiece consists of six Creation scenes. The main axis depicts God Sabaoth with the Angelic host and the enthroned Christ the Judge with John the Baptist and the Virgin. It is followed by the six Feasts symbolizing the six days of the week. The border scenes of such Orthodox icons depict the Evangelists, Saints, Church Fathers, the Fools-for-Christ, and the Blessed.

The depiction of events of great historical scale and significance, surrounded by the figures of universal and Russian saints, is intended to show that after the Baptism, Russian Church has become an integral part of the Universal Church.

Overall, this amazing piece of religious art is rendered with bright and vivid colors, details and refinement in the silhouettes of the figures, as well as various types of architecture and patterns, which makes it truly extraordinary.

Stay with us to learn more about other important Orthodox icons!