Beaded Icon of the Koimesis

Object Name: 
Beaded Icon of the Koimesis

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Object Name: 
Beaded Icon of the Koimesis
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall W: 23.4 cm, L: 52.6 cm, Th: 6.1 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
Freshwater pearls were the main decorative element used in embroidery in Russia, where pearls were plentiful in rivers across the country. Pearls were also employed by the Church to heavily ornament both religious garments and embroideries. As glass seed beads, imported from Venice and Bohemia, became readily available, Russian women quickly integrated them into their embroidery. In Russia, both a tradition of embroidery and an ecclesiastical embroidery industry were already in place, which helped to make the transition to creating glass beadwork an easy and rapid one. Beads began to adorn a great variety of domestic and functional goods, such as bottles (e.g., 82.3.76), wall hangings, purses, and fire screens. As in Europe, these domestic goods were often made as a form of leisure activity by women of the upper classes. Icons crafted for the Russian Orthodox Church were regularly enclosed in ornate cases. The making of beaded icon casings probably began in the 18th century and continued into the early 20th century. Glass beads, along with glass gems, pearls, and metal foils, were used to achieve a highly encrusted appearance. This icon depicts the koimesis (falling asleep in death) of the Virgin Mary. Only the painted head and hands of the Virgin are visible; everything else is heavily encrusted with white, pink, and metal-lined seed beads, as well as with larger amber facet-formed beads and imitation gems. The icon is set in a boxlike frame covered with what looks to be gold foil. Icons, especially those of the Virgin Mary, were important in the Russian Orthodox religion, and the added adornment of the cases made these icons more precious and spectacular to those who faithfully believed in the figures depicted.
Antiquairiat Klittich-Pfankuch, Source
Primary Description: 
Beaded Icon of the Koimesis. Transparent to opaque multicolored glass; mold-blown, drawn and pressed.
Corning Museum of Glass 2013-05-18 through 2014-01-05
For 30,000 years, mankind has crafted beads from natural materials. With the discovery of glassmaking in the second millennium B.C., glass began to be used for this same purpose. Glass beads are universal. They have been produced throughout the 35 centuries of glass manufacturing, and by nearly every culture in the world. The glass beads and beaded objects on view in this exhibition are arranged thematically, comparing the manner in which diverse cultures have utilized beads, frequently for the same purposes, but sometimes for unique reasons. These themes explore how glass beads adorn the body and our possessions; how they convey messages about power and wealth, and identify the stages of human life; how they serve ritual purposes, as well as decorate clothing and objects used in rituals; and how they have been employed across the centuries as a means of exchange, both commercial and cultural. Through the centuries, beads have been made using a variety of processes. Understanding how beads were made has allowed scholars to follow the transmission of beads and beadmaking techniques across the globe. Across time and around the world, glass beads have become a common element of mankind. Through their manufacture and function, they are one of the strings that bind humanity together. “Life on a String” celebrates this common bond while also revealing the distinctiveness of different societies through their use of glass beads to celebrate their unique cultural heritage.
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, pp. 44-45, no. 29; BIB# 134720
Recent Important Acquisitions, 40 (1998) illustrated, p. 152, #28; BIB# AI40492
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 1997 (1998) illustrated, p. 10; BIB# AI95178