Iconography of the saints and the stories about them: the three-handed Theotokos /  Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa (the principles of interaction between image and text) Cover Image
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Иконография святых и рассказы о них: Богородица „Троеручица” (принципы взаимодействия образа и текста)
Iconography of the saints and the stories about them: the three-handed Theotokos / Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa (the principles of interaction between image and text)

Author(s): Olga Belova
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion, History, Fine Arts / Performing Arts, Cultural history, History of Church(es), Visual Arts, Theology and Religion, 19th Century, Eastern Orthodoxy
Published by: Институт за изследване на изкуствата, Българска академия на науките

Summary/Abstract: One of the characteristic features of the „Folk Bible” (folk legends based on the plots from the Old and New Testaments) is the fact that apocryphal tales and samples of Christian iconography became its sources together with the canonical biblical text and hagiography texts. The influence of iconography masterpieces on the structure of folklore texts is an extremely interesting area of research: it demands the study of the influence of canonical and „naive” sacred paintings on oral tradition; the principles of image interpretation in oral texts, and mechanisms of generation of folk narratives, based on the interpretation of this or that image are also to be analyzed. In this paper, we will focus on one illustrative case, i.e. the relationship of iconography and oral text in the folk stories about the icon of the three-handed Theotokos (Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa). The article examines the narratives about the icon of Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa, recorded in different regions of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The image of Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa is rather popular in the folk tradition environment, but its interpretation in East Slavic folklore is often based not on the episode from the life of Saint John of Damascus, but on the beliefs about the third hand of the Virgin, miraculously given to her by God (or by Christ). According to popular belief, because of this the Virgin and Child escaped from the chase and crossed the sea. It is also believed that the icon of the Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa helps from the hands and arms disease: the presence of three hands on the image is regarded as evidence that the icon’s help is addressed to all the suffering and praying. With the help of this icon, if it was put on the water, the body of a drowned man can be found. A number of calendar prohibitions (for example, one cannot swim or bath in the Midfeast, which name Prepolovenie in folk etymology is explained through the word pereplyvat’ „to swim”) and local stories about the stones with traces of feet of the Virgin are associated with the legend of Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa as well.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 50-53
  • Page Count: 4
  • Language: Russian