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16 November 1998
9/1998
Commemorative Issue

Christmas 1998

Cyprus
The series of stamps "Christmas 1998" consists of three stamps which are decorated with the scenes of the Annunciation, the Birth and the Baptism of Christ.

These scenes are part of 22 scenes of the Christological cycle which are painted on an epistyle which belongs to the church of Panagia Theoskepasti at Kalopanayiotis. The epistyle, part of an iconostasis which has not survived, may be regarded as the most significant epistyle to have survived in Cyprus and is kept in the main church of the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lambadistis at Kalopanayiotis.

The Kalopanayiotis epityle has been made on a large single board 3.53 m long and 0.50 m wide. The board has been carved in sush a way that 23 pointed arches are formed that lead to pillars, in two rows, the one above the other, twelve in the upper row and eleven in the lower, with two half arches left and right.

The scenes which have been painted on the inside of the arches are the following:

  • Upper row: Annunciation, Birth of Christ, the Presentation, Baptism, Transfiguration, Raising of Lazarus, Entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, Betrayal, Crucifixion, the Deposition and the Lamentation.
  • Lower row: Prophet David, the Entombment, the Harrowing of Hell, the Myre bearing Women before the empty tomp, Christ sends to his disciples to teach to the nations, the appearance of Chirsto to the Women, Deisis (Christ in the centre, The Virgin on the left and John the Baptist on the right), Appearance of Christ to his Discples, the doubting of Thimas, Ascension, Pentecost, the Dormition of the Virgin and finally Prophet Jeremiah.

    This epistyle may be dated to the second half of the 14th century and its painting style is of the Palaeologue period which is regarded as the culmination of Byzantine art. Very few influences of the western art may be observed on secondary iconographic elements but the main trait of the art of the unknown painter of the Kalopanayiotis epistyle is the almost excessive use of chrysography (gold painting). Nevertheless, the escellent condition of the epistyle and the high quality art of the painter make it one of the best examples of Byzantine art to have survived in Cyprus.

    Text: Department of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus.
    Source: Department of Postal Services, Republic of Cyprus.

Annunciation  

Annunciation

:

The first stamp of 10c depicts the scene of the Annunciation. The Virgin is seated on a throne with a stool and is turning to Archangel Gabriel who is entering the place in quick steps in order to bring "Evangelismos", that is the good news of the incarnation of Christ and by extension of the Salvation of the Human Race

Birth of Christ  

Birth of Christ

:

The second stamp of 25c depicts the scene of the Birth of Christ. In the centre of the representation the Virgin is lying and looking at the small swaddled Christ while in heavens angels are chanting to extol the event. The main scene is completed with secondary events such as the Adoration of the Magi, a puzzled Joseph in the lower left corner, the bath of the Child in the centre and the Annunciation to the shepherds by the angels on the right.

Baptism  

Baptism

:

Finally depicted on the third stamp of 30c is the Baptism with Christ in the centre of the scene in the Jordan river receiving the baptism from Saint John the Baptism on the left, while on the right there are three angels in an adoration posture. Over the head of Christ in the form of a pigeon while in the river the personification of the Jordan is depicted.

Official First Day Covers

Official FDC Christmas 1998

Technical Information

Designer: Theodoros Kakoullis
Size: 40 x 27 mm
Quantities:
c25: 900000
c30: 120000
c10: 700000
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