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Baptismal Iconography On Sacrophagus And Grave Beliefs

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Chapter Summary

Narrative iconography (including the baptism scene) continued after the late fourth century but mostly in new media—mosaic, ivory carving, metalwork, glass, and manuscript illumination. This chapter describes a set of extant early examples of baptismal iconography in both ivory and mosaic. It also discusses a number of issues that arise in relation to these images, including the nature of the shower that is emitted from the dove's beak, the appearance of angels in the baptism scene, and the significance of the Jordan River personification in the baptismal imagery. Finally, because the two dome mosaic images of baptism from Ravenna are placed in baptisteries belonging to two competing sects—the Arian and the Orthodox communities—the chapter examines whether this theological controversy had a distinguishable influence on the iconography on those two monuments.

Keywords:baptismal iconography; glass; ivory; mosaic



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