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[[Image:Luke first icon.jpg|right|frame|The [[Apostle Luke]] painting the first icon]]
'''''Iconography''''' (from Greek
εικονογ�?αφία) refers to the making and [[liturgics|liturgical]] use of '''icons''', pictorial representations of [[Holy Scripture|Biblical]] scenes from the life of [[Jesus Christ]], historical events in the life of the Church, and portraits of the [[saint]]s. Icons are usually two-dimensional images and may be made of paint, mosaic, embroidery, weaving, carving, engraving, or other methods.
Images have always been a vital part of the [[Orthodox Church|Church]], but their place was the subject of the [[Iconoclasm|Iconoclast Controversy]] in the 8th and 9th centuries, especially in the East. The [[Sunday of Orthodoxy]], the first Sunday of the [[Great Lent|Great Fast]] (Lent) every year celebrates the reestablishment of the Orthodox [[veneration]] of icons. The use of iconography is considered one of the most distinctive elements of the Byzantine rite.
[[Image:Icons restoration.jpg|right|frame|Restoration of the Icons]]
=="Written" or "painted"?==
The most literal translation of the word εικονογ�?αφία (''eikonographia'') is "image writing," leading many English-speaking Orthodox Christians to insist that icons are not "painted" but rather "written." From there, further explanations are given that icons are to be understood in a manner similar to [[Holy Scripture]]—that is, they are not simply artistic compositions but rather are witnesses to the truth the way Scripture is. Far from being imaginitive creations of the iconographer, they are more like scribal copies of the Bible.
While the explanation of the purpose and nature of icons is certainly true and consistent with the Church's [[Holy Tradition]], there is a linguistic problem with the insistence on the word ''written'' rather than ''painted''. In Greek, a painted portrait of anyone is also a 'γ�?αφή' (''graphi''), and the art of painting itself is called ζωγ�?αφιά (''zographia''). Ancient Greek literally uses the same root word to refer to the making of portraits and the making of icons, but distinguishes whether it is "painting from life" 'ζωγ�?αφιά' or "painting icons" 'εικονογ�?αφία'. Thus, from a linguistic point of view, either all paintings—whether icons or simple portraits—are "written" or (more likely) "painted" is a perfectly usable English translation, simply making a distinction between the painting appropriate for icons and that appropriate for other kinds of painting, just as Greek does.
* Forest, Jim. ''Praying With Icons''. (ISBN 1570751129)
== External links ==
[[Image:Icon studio.jpg|right|thumb|300px|Two icons, one complete and another in process]]
=== General information ===
*[http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/icon_faq.aspx The Icon FAQ]
*[http://www.iconsexplained.com/ Icons Explained]
=== Online icon galleries ===
*[http://www.orthodoxiconography.com Orthodox Iconography by the hand Elias Damianakis]
*[http://www.unipo.sk/IKONY/ikona1uk.htm Icons of the Saris Museum at Bardejov - Slovakia]
*[http://www.auburn.edu/academic/liberal_arts/foreign/russian/icons/ Russian Icons Index]
*[http://theotokos.org/CopticIcons/index.htm Coptic icons]
*[http://www.byzantinesacredart.com Byzantine Sacred Art, Orthodox Icons and Iconography]
*[http://www.orthodox-icons-olympia.blogspot.com/ Contemporary Traditional Iconography]
*[http://religiousicons.com/handpainted_icons/index.html Iconography] - Commissioned Hand Painted Icons for Churches and private collections
=== Audio ===
*From [http://www.ourlifeinchrist.com/archives.htm Our Life in Christ]:
**[http://ourlifeinchrist.com/audio/mp3/icons1_092604.mp3 Icons in the Orthodox Faith - Part 1]
**[http://www.ourlifeinchrist.com/audio/mp3/icons2_100304.mp3 Icons in the Orthodox Faith - Part 2]
**[http://www.ourlifeinchrist.com/audio/mp3/iconhistory_101004.mp3 History of Icons]
**[http://www.ourlifeinchrist.com/audio/mp3/light1_102404.mp3 Icons and the Theology of Light, the Orthodox View of Salvation- Part 1]
**[http://www.ourlifeinchrist.com/audio/mp3/light2_103104.mp3 Icons and the Theology of Light, the Orthodox View of Salvation- Part 2]
**[http://www.ourlifeinchrist.com/audio/mp3/veneration_110704.mp3 Icons and Veneration]
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