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Saints and SpectacleByzantine Mosaics in their Cultural Setting$
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Carolyn L. Connor

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190457624

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190457624.001.0001

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Mosaics as a Ritual Art

Mosaics as a Ritual Art

Byzantine Mosaics at Work

(p.125) Chapter 5 Mosaics as a Ritual Art
Saints and Spectacle

Carolyn L. Connor

Oxford University Press

Victor Turner’s theory of ritual as work is applied to the ancient tradition of spectacles in connection with Christian processions and the art of mosaic. The gold-ground mosaics that proliferated in Constantinople after Iconoclasm functioned as a calculated reflection of the emperor’s pervasive presence and authority, and were part of an effort to stabilize the Empire. The involvement of the patriarch Photius along with Michael III and the first emperors of the Macedonian dynasty in designing and sponsoring these mosaic programs is supported by testimony in sources. The threads of earlier chapters are brought together to show how civic and imperial engagement were mediated by the ideal medium for the job: the ritual art of mosaic accomplished the necessary “work” of expressing the central ideology of the Byzantine State and uniting a people after a time of disruption and uncertainty.

Keywords:   ritual, spectacle, procession, Patriarch Photius, mosaic, Victor Turner

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