Russian icon of the Nativity of the Lord, XIX century
Dimensions: 31 x 26.5 cm
Christmas is one of the main Christian holidays, established in honor of the birth in the flesh of Jesus Christ from the Virgin Mary. The plot and composition of the icon symbolize the two main ideas of the Feast: the joy of the whole world, caused by the appearance of the Almighty God in this World, and the humiliation of God for the salvation of people. Above the Infant there hangs a dark Bethlehem cave, reminding of the future suffering and the place of Christ’s repose after the crucifixion. The gloominess of the cave is further emphasized by the luminous white garments of the Child. In the center of the composition the image of the Mother of God is represented, which is unfolded in the opposite direction from the nursery to the Child – She seems to rest from a miracle that has come to pass. The greatness and solemnity of the event is underlined by the red fire bed on which the Mother of God lies. Above the manger bowes an ox and a donkey symbolizing sacrifice. Two Old Testament sacrifices, bowed their heads over ane New Testament sacrifice. At the top of the icon are angels and the brightest star. In the lower corners are two scenes: Joseph, sitting in deep meditation in front of whom stands a hunched old man and the ablution of the Child. The scene of ablution symbolizes the earthly side of the Savior – the God-man.