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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > wileyc > Anonymous follis
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Class G, sb1867 attributed to Romanus IV 1068-1071 CE
Obverse: Bust of Christ facing, wearing nimbus cr., pallium and colobium, and raising r. hand in benediction; in l., hand scroll ; to l., IC to r., XC barred.
Reverse: Facing bust of virgans roans, nimbate and wearing palladium and maphorium; to l., MP to r., OV; border of large pellets.
Mint: Constantinople
Date: 1068-1071 CE
SB 1867 Class G
25mm, 9.71g
-The depiction of the Virgin Mary with her hands upraised in prayer ("orans") is of very ancient origin in Christian art. In the mausoleum of St Agnes in Rome is a depiction dating to the 4th century which depicts the Theotokos with hands raised in prayer and the infant Jesus sitting upon her knees. There is also an ancient Byzantine icon of the Mother of God "Nikopea" from the 6th century, where the Virgin Mary is depicted seated upon a throne and holding in her hands an oval shield with the image of "Emmanuel"

s the Virgin appears to be praying her arms are extended outward- this icon type is also called the Virgin Orans. The title Orans (a person praying) comes from a type of non-narrative symbolic figure with outstretched arms we find in the catacombs and on sarcophagi (used in other situations, as well). Such figures always female- were common in pagan imagery and were thought to symbolize filial piety. They were used, in funerary art, to represent the human soul (also thought to be female) of a deceased person. The early Christians adopted the figure for the same symbolic reason. Some art historians are of the opinion that the so called orans (or orant) figure also symbolized the whole Church at prayer. For this reason, the Virgin Orans is sometimes understood to be Mary, in her role as image of the Church, bringing Christ to the world and interceding for mankind with her Son. Orans or orant are generic terms now often used to describe any person in life or art praying with outstretched arms.
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