Photo: Litany of the icon of Panagia Elona in Leonidio.
As you may know I have the pleasure to present a short pitch on “The Emotional Value of Jewellery” during the International Symposium JEWELLERY MATTERS in Rijks Museum Amsterdam on 16 November 2017. The symposium pays tribute to the same name book by jewellery collector and scholar Marjon Unger of Amsterdam.
I would never write my Pecha Kucha speech without the helpful advice and information neighbors and friends from Leonidio, my home town in Arcadia, kindly shared with me. THANK YOU, guys for the highly emotional and inspirational material you gave me! Your trust honors me!
The title of my speech is:
“Offering jewellery to the ones who can not wear it: Burying the dead with jewellery, adorning icons with jewellery in contemporary Greece.”
Here is a small abstract:
“Next to its ornamental use – connoting gender, status, class, wealth, power – Greek jewellery is a means to keep contact to the dead and negotiate with gods for a most favorable share of destiny (moira). After all, cosmos/universe and jewellery is the same word suggesting that something bigger is at stake than its obvious talismanic, religious, decorative or social use.
Although Christianity offiicially forbids sepulchral jewellery – for king or beggar are equal before God- the custom leaves on. Wreaths to celebrate the “sacred marriage” to Hades, baptism crosses and wedding rings (the strongest talisman against the annihilation of identity) and jewellery worn in life time as the last proof of love for the dead to “take with them” is still placed in tombs.
Offering jewellery to negotiate with gods was an ancient Greek practice which presupposes a deity who enjoys the offers or even uses them. Negotiations with divinity continue in modern Greece where – allegedly – miraculous icons are decorated with personal jewellery pieces, such as wedding rings, crosses or silver or gold plaquets bearing engravings of a home, man, woman, a foot or eye, “thank you” etc.
The motifs refer to the service that has been rendered by the saint and keep the promise of sacrificing something valuable, once the wish has been granted. Personal jewellery, such as pendants, golden watches, earrings, bracelets, along with crosses and wedding rings, adorn the miraculous icons of the much venerated Panagia or the saint-above-all-saints, as her name means. They are the personal testimonies that prayers have been answered and that Christ’s mother loves jewellery!”