In contrast to the stable in the West, the icons of the Nativity in the East focus on the cave. In the mountainous surroundings of Bethlehem there were caves into which the shepherds drove their flocks at night or in case of danger and also used to spend the night there themselves. When Joseph came to Bethlehem for the census, he only found shelter for himself and his pregnant wife Maria in such a

cave. The rock cave is also a symbol of the world of the dead. The ox and the donkey represent Jews and Gentiles, the star and the angels the presence of the Trinity, the magicians or sages with their gifts refer to the women at the grave with the oils and ointments.


After Bethlehem was conquered by Islam along with the Holy Land in the 7th century, the cave finally found its home on the icon as a "relic of remembrance". In it the Mother of God rests on a lounger and looks at the child in the manger. Midwives bathe the child. Josef always sits deeply away from the cave in deep thoughts. The "magicians", as the wise men from the Orient are called, ride up. The birth of Jesus was celebrated in the east until the 6th century on January 6 as an epiphany or theophany ("divine apparition"), together with the adoration of the wise and the baptism of the Lord. The celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25 was intended to highlight the Incarnation of the Son of God and his human nature. The Council of Ephesus in 431 recognized Mary as the Mother of God ("Theotokos").

Russian icon | Birth of Jesus | Nativity | Christmas | 24744

SKU: 24744
  • Original antique Russian orthodox icon

    Certificate of authenticity from an independent expert at the Vienna Dorotheum
  • Age


  • Size

    31.5 x 26 cm (12.2 x 10.2 in)

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