The Icon On Wood - Sacred Collection Object

Painter and collector of icons, Sergiu Savin was born in Bucovina, at Horodnic. Although he is a native of Bucovina he left his village when he was a child, and went to Transylvania. He came in touch with his native land very late, when he was about 55. He wanted one day to see how the village where he was born looked like. The village that triggered his passion nourished his inner fire. I watch his icons, arranged in a certain pattern, according to the canon and the effect. I notice the pedagogic side, that of mentoring; but also the enlightening side. These icons are a fascinating text, and at the same time an opportunity of "ascetic warm-up": an initiating shock. Naturally, it was said that the Christian iconography is, above all, like a Bible for those who did not resort to the Biblical text – that is, the traditional population which did not have a biblical culture and ardently approached the walls of the monasteries, where the Bible was expressively illustrated; or they approached the icons, where the biblical text was extended in the image. Signs and miracles The icon is a palpable aspect of what "Incarnation" means. Just as the word took concrete shape and became FLESH, so the icon stands as testimony of the Incarnation. Thus, we reply to those who ask why with the Orthodox people the unseen God is illustrated on the icons: why the icon? Because we have a personal contact with the divinity through graphemes, through watching "the signs." The icons are not realistic; they do not evince "realism" in the sense of resemblance with the painted "object." The icons from painter Sergiu Savin's collection are not realistic. Exactly because they are his personal contact with the illustrated image. They cannot be realistic. They are signs. Signs of the unseen. When we refer to "sign" (in Greek: semeion), we also think of "miracle." . They are actually a part of the miracle of Incarnation.I said that I saw in the icons the pastoral aspect as well, that of the narration in the Bible with a pedagogic purpose, even if we are interested in the mystical side of the icon, not in the pedagogic, narrative one, extraordinary as it is. The core and the carnation of the iconThe central icon: "The Holy Kerchief" – reminds us of the very origins of ecclesiastical painting, of biblical painting. It is the first representation of the Saviour which was not accomplished by a human hand. The first painter, the tradition says, is St. Luke the apostle. The icon of the Holy Virgin, a miracle doer, from Namaiesti (Câmpulung Muscel), is said to be the oldest and was painted by Luke the apostle at the request of the Holy Virgin; it is believed that it was brought to our land by Andrei the apostle …St. Luke gave the first image of the Holy Virgin, namely the "Odighitria" hypostasis, meaning "the one showing the way." You will find it in the icon collection belonging to the painter and collector Sergiu Savin. The Holy Virgin Odighitria is extremely valued on the Holy Mount Athos and our popular iconography is of Athos influence. There are many hypostases of the Holy Virgin: the Comforting Holy Virgin (Eleusa, Umilenia), the Healing (Pantehasa), the Answering (Antifonetria), the Unction Spring (Elaiovrytisa). The most beloved is the Holy Virgin who shows THE WAY: Odighitria. The traditional painters pray to her before beginning to paint. The anonymous painter as well as the one on the Holy Mount Athos or the one from the Carpathian Mountains in Romania prays to the icon of the Holy Virgin, "the one which shows the WAY." Regarding the Holy Kerchief, it is present in some tens of paintings in Sergiu Savin's collection. It recurs, several times, in a beautiful arrangement: the Holy Cross formed of several icons with the Holy Kerchief. The Holy Kerchief is considered the first icon. An icon which was not made by a human hand. Today, naturally, we make it by a painter's hand. However it can be said that not even today is it made by human hand, for the painter's arm is guided from inside, by a divine force. The holy kerchief has, from the beginning, two hypostases, coming from two historical incidents.When Abgar, the king of Edessa, asked Christ to help him heal, as he couldn't go to the Edessa kingdom, Christ took a kerchief, wiped himself with it and the face was imprinted in the way it could imprint on that kerchief; and the kerchief was brought to king Abgar, in Edessa, and the king was healed instantly, touching that divine conveyance.The tradition also tells about Saint Veronica's kerchief. The kerchief with which this predestined woman wiped of sweat the face of the Saviour, exhausted by the burden of the cross. And the face left its phosphorescent imprint on the kerchief. It may be a legend and a symbol, but it has a lot of concreteness. The very word "Veronica" makes the connection with the event, like a revealing lightening: it is a word made up of "Nika" which means the triumphant, name ascribed to Jesus, and "Vera," which means truth. The initiating shockWe can review all the events in the Bible through these icons on wood. Prophets and apostles, divine characters and saints… Strangely, the Christian iconography also includes a nude: that of Mary the Egyptian, the woman who became holy by metanoia, by repentance, by asceticism. Reaching the highest degree of purity, she spent her time praying in the wilderness and didn't realise that she was naked, just as Adam and Eve, before the sin, didn't realise that they were naked. Actually, with Mary the Egyptian, in an icon on wood, we can see how her hair, long and dishevelled, covers much of the nakedness. The icon attests as well that the saint was in a state of levitation. We remark that some icons produce the initiating shock, the turning of the mind from senses to spirit, in order to prepare you for the revelation of your own redemption.Other icons are parables and faces, painted with simplicity. Wood as SPIRIT bearerWood is the optimum material for popular painting in our traditional civilisation. Sometimes, the wood itself contains a drawing made by the waving of the shapes, those geo-magnetic, solar, chthonic pressures which give the nervures and the circles from the trunk shapes that are not fortuitous. There often appears a drawing in the shape of a cross. Wood is a sacred essence for the popular painter from the Carpathians. The Egyptians scribbled on papyrus, the Romans on stone, the Wallachians on wood. Wood has the spirit of the tree that it comes from. It is a celestial resonator. Through trees, God spoke to Moses; Vishnu also spoke to Narada through trees. With Romanians, the predilection for the icon on wood comes also from sensing the sacral value of the wood, from the genesis until today. When you see a house full of icons, you plunge in the middle of Romanian traditional, initiating civilisation. The house of the rural Romanian was full of icons. We know that the mind takes the shape of the object viewed. If, at home, the eye rests on icons, the mind will take the shape of the icon. That is why the mind of our forefathers had brilliance and holiness.

by Vasile Andru (b. 1942)