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24 November 1969
5/1969
Commemorative Issue

Christmas 1969

Cyprus
The Nativity - Wall painting in the Church of Panayia tou Arakos, Lagoudhera, 1192 A.D.  

The Nativity - Wall painting in the Church of Panayia tou Arakos, Lagoudhera, 1192 A.D.

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The 12th century Byzantine paintings, had an interesting evolution, culminated in the superb frescoes of the Church of Panayia toy Arakos. The grace of the slender figures combined with the sweet expression and the elaborate drapery, which in some cases becomes rather exaggerated, characterize these paintings. The painter with a remarkable ability distributes the figures in the large composition in order to render the balance clearly evident. The features of the faces are rendered with a subtle calligraphic manner. All these features can be found in the wall painting of the Nativity. Beside the scene of the birth of Christ, which is always the focusing point in the painting, related episodes like the chanting angels, the offering of the presents by the three Kings of the East and the bath of the newly born child are depicted. A special emphasis is given to the reclining figure of the Virgin who turns her eyes with affection to the swaddled child resting in the manger. The painter caught the supernatural sense of the event and gave, in a unique manner, the birth of Christ without pain, according to an apocryphal gospel.

Source: Department of Postal Services, Republic of Cyprus.

The Nativity - Wall painting in the Church of Ayios Nicolaos tis Steghis, near Kakopetria. 14th century.  

The Nativity - Wall painting in the Church of Ayios Nicolaos tis Steghis, near Kakopetria. 14th century.

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The painting of the Nativity in the Church of Ayios Nicolaos tis Steghis has a different character than the one at Panayia tou Arakos (20mils stamp) and has been painted in a different style. Here the figures and the landscape are rendered in a linear manner and are almost flat. Despite this, the realism is more evident and shows not only the ability of the painter for observation, but also his ability to describe in an expressive manner the various episodes related to the birth of Christ. Although the iconography is in general similar, the arrangement of the scene is different and its characters more human and realistic. As in the painting of the church of Panayia tou Arakos, here too the centre of the scene is occupied by the Virgin with the Child. But here the Virgin is not the woman who has given birth without pain, but the Mother of the divine Baby. What the painter wants to emphasize is the reality of the incarnation of the Word of God. The Virgin is not depicted reclining but sitting, full of care and feeding the Baby at her breast, while the two animals are fixing their eyes on him, over the empty manger. The upper part of the painting is occupied by the chanting Angels. On the left a shepherd is playing his pipe, while on the right the three Kings are depicted offering their presents. At the bottom left corner, St. Joseph is sitting thoughtful. In spite of the oriental influence and its more popular character, this painting is one of the best pieces of the 14th century paintings in Cyprus.

Source: Department of Postal Services, Republic of Cyprus.

Official First Day Covers

Official FDC Christmas 1969

Technical Information

Designer: A. Tassos
Size: 31 x 43.5 mm
Quantities:
M45: 367355
M20: 682341
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