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Title The Signum Harpocraticum in the 8th-century Christian Art of Nubia
Author email
About author Eirini Panou — Ph. D., post-doctoral fellow. Centre for the Study of Christianity, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, 91905 Jerusalem, Israel
In the section Classical Legacy in the Art of Byzantine Oikoumene and Beyond DOI10.18688/aa155-2-25
Year 2015 Volume 5 Pages 246262
Type of article RAR Index UDK 7.033.2...1 Index BBK 85.14; 6 3. 3 (0) 4

The Egyptian god Horus was known from the second millennium BC as “the child with a finger in his mouth”. Hieroglyphics show that the placement of fingers onto the lips pertains to the believer’s responsibility to stay silent in the presence of the divine out of respect. In Eastern Christianity, the ancient Egyptian prohibition of speaking when God is present – now effectuated in churches – was continued more prominently both in texts and less often iconography. In general, the significance of the gesture of silence is defined as the appropriate behaviour that the faithful should adopt when confronting god in their prayers or when entering religious spaces. However, textual and iconographical evidence shows that this particular gesture was multilayered and could be explained on a theological or philosophical level depending on the era and region it appears. This article explores the semiotics of the silence gesture for a female saint in the 8th-century Cathedral of Paul, in Faras, Nubia. 

Reference Eirini Panou. The Signum Harpocraticum in the 8th-century Christian Art of Nubia. Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art: Collection of articles. Vol. 5. Eds: Svetlana V. Maltseva, Ekaterina Yu. Stanyukovich-Denisova, Anna V. Zakharova. St. Petersburg, NP-Print Publ., 2015, pp. 246–262. ISSN 2312-2129.
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