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St. Sophia :: Mosaic of the Empress Zoe

Mosaic of the Empress Zoe

The mosaics of zoe are situated on the east wall of the hall in the southern gallery reserved for emperors. This panel of mosaics, which has a dimension of 2.40 x 2.44 meters, unfortunately lacks a portion about 35 centimeters at the bottom. On these mosaics, the figure of Christ Pantocrator is flanked by those of Emperor Constantine IX Manomachos, and his Empress zoe. Christ is seen in the middle, sitting on a throne ornamented with precious stones. He is seen holding his right hand in a gesture of blessing, while holding with his left hand the Holy Book studded with pearls, over his knees. Jesus is seen wearing a lapis lazuli robe. The parts showing his feet are no more in existence.

There is a halo with a cross at the back of his head. On both sides of the head of jesus, the abbreviated monograms of "Iessus Christos", which are denoted with the combination of the letters of .'IC" and "XC", are'read.

On the right side of Jesus, Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos is depicted standing up, with his crown on top of his head, clad in ornamented ceremonial costumes. He is holding a purse in his hand, symbolyzing the donation he has made to the church. Over his head and on the golden background is seen an inscription to this effect: "Constantine Monomachos, the pious ruler of Romans and the servant of God's Jesus". On the left of Jesus, Empress zoe is seen standing up. The empress is seen holding a roll of papers, signifying the donations she has made. The inscription over the head of her third husband Constantine IX, Monomachos ( 1042-1055 ) is repeated exactly also on this roll. The empress was the daughter of Constantine VII. Over the head of the empress, there is an inscription to this effect: "Very pious Augusta zoe". Althought Empress zoe is seen young in the mosaics, she was quite old even at her first " marriage in 1028. Historians state that she looked young, because of ther being small and short. When scrutunized carefully, it is seen that the name of Constantine IX : was scraped in both places and , were made as seen today in a disorderly way. The emperor's head was also scraped and in its place the present portrait was made. It is understood from , mosaics at the neck of zoe that her head was also changed. Here, it becomes evident that these mosaics formerly represented other people and were changed later on.

It is suggested that either her first " husband Romanos III Argyrus ; (1028-1034), or Michael IV, whom she adopted as a son first and made an Emperor later on, were portrayed here. This emperor has, however, fallen into disesteem and has been exiled to the island of Prinkopo (of the Princess Islands) , and zoe has made her third marriage with Constantine IX. It is believed that in these mosaics the head of this figure was scraped out and the head of Monomachos replaced it.

 



Above text and pictures are from the book titled "Hagia Sophia".

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