Cythra from the cross topping over the icon screen featuring The Virgin

Type: Plastic iconographical object: Cythra

Period: From the beginning of the 17 century to the end of the 17 century

Author: Unknown

School: Unknown

Dimmensions (cm): 31 / 24


Country: Bulgaria

Province: Sofia

Town: Sofia

Museum: National History Museum


Country: Bulgaria

Other source: Others

Object identification notes

The cross topping over the icon screen brings together the cross and the Crucifixion in the middle. To the left and to the right there are two cythri featuring John the Divine and Virgin Mary who lament over Christ crucified. Christ crowns the icon screen and is a symbol of the sacrifice made for the salvation of the human race. This work illustrates the tendencies in the primitive provincial art and its kinship to popular art where depiction of human figures and geometric patterns are in perfect harmony.


The cythra depicts Virgin Mary together with Mary of Magdala who is a participant in this scene but is not a stock character in The Crucifixion on the icon screen cross topping. The arch of the cythra on the top is formed by three plastic crosses that form a triangle with lilies in-between them. The carved, graphic floral motifs are gilded; the background below them is dark-blue. Corded carved pillars support the yoke-shaped arch below this plastic decoration. The free fields off the depiction are occupied by motley simple linear decoration against a blue background. Virgin Mary and Mary of Magdala lamenting Christ are depicted in full size amidst this intricate decoration in the central field against yellow background in the lower part and dark-blue background in the upper part. Virgin Mary wears a blue chiton and an orange maphorion; Mary of Magdala wears a dark-blue chiton and a claret maphorion.

Iconographical technique: Carving


Base material: Wood