Icons in the Greek orthodox church.
The tradition of icons dates from the beginning of our era, when the Greeks in Egypt covered the faces of the dead with a small wooden plank with a painting of the deceased person. Later this advanced in images of Saints on wood and again later on canvas. A book of the first icons was made with the rules according to which the icons had to be painted; which colours were used, which symbols the saints were holding and what kind of clothes they were wearing. These rules still apply today and the book is kept in a monastery in the monk republic Athos in Northern Greece.
An icon is only allowed to be called an original when it has been painted according to the rules written in this book. Besides that, they also have to be painted with egg yolks and natural colours and the gold foil must be real gold.
Icons are painted on wood with thin layers of paint on a layer of gold. The technique of painting the icons is tied to tradition and set rules, meaning strict lines and almost without perspective.
Original icons are recognized by the certificate at the back. Real icons are very rare and very valuable.
The icons are greatly honoured in the Orthodox Church. They are images of saints, but especially Christ and the Mother of God. Usually the face, the neck and hands are visible. The rest is covered with a golden or silver plaque. Sometimes you find that the head of the Saint is surrounded by an aureole, which is worked with precious stones.