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Crosses Information Page
It is not known when the first cross image was made; as there are many cross-shaped incisions in European caves, dating back to the earliest stages of human cultural development in the stone age.
The best example for the use of the cross in pre-Christian Cyprus is the Lymba Lady, a figurine whichdepicts a woman wearing a cross pendant attached to a string. But what is of most importance here is the symbolism behind the gold crosses that we choose to wear. Whether that is a Greek or other Christian cross or a Crucifix.
Greek and other Christian Crosses
The designs for most of the gold crosses that hold proportions such as the one of the cross seen in this picture (left), relate to what is known as the Latin cross or ?crux ordinaria?. It is the most common symbol of Christianity, intended to represent the death of Jesus when he was crucified on the True Cross and his resurrection in the New Testament. It is generally seen as a representation of the crucifixion of Jesus. It is related to the crucifix (a cross that includes a representation of Jesus? body) and to the more general family of cross symbols.
The proportions tend to have the upper part of the cross along with the left and right hand sides matching in dimensions and the horizontal part of the cross dividing the vertical part in 1/3 and 2/3 parts.
However the Greek cross (right) has all four arms in equal length and sometimes the arms curve wider as they go out. This version of the cross is not only by Greeks but also by other Christians of Eastern Orthodoxy and was also common in early Christianity.
Here it is worth noting that the members of the Eastern Orthodox Church usually refer to themselves as simply Orthodox. Eastern is a term often applied in the Western World for the sake of clarity. Traditionally the Orthodox refer to themselves as Catholic since the Roman Empire (centered in Constantinople) called itself Roman and its people, Greek speaking though they were, called themselves Romans. But for modern scholarship and to alleviate confusion in textbooks the term Byzantine Empire is often used today. Members of the Orthodox Church consider themselves to be members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, a claim also held by the Assyrian Church, the Coptic Church, and what is today referred to in the Western World as the Roman Catholic Church. As the Orthodox see it the Assyrians and Copts broke from the church after the first few centuries and the Roman Catholics in 1054. Since then the Eastern Church has referred to itself as Orthodox (Correct Believing).
The cross as a symbol
During the first two centuries of Christianity, the cross has been rare in Christian iconography, as it depicts a purposely painful and gruesome method of public execution.
The Ichthys symbol, (which means fish in Greek) was used widely by early Christians. Ichthys in Greek is also an acronymun for, Jesus Christ God Son and Savior.
The Chi-Rho monogram, which was adopted by Constantine I in the fourth century as his banner (see labarum), was another Early Christian symbol of wide use. Again the first two letter for Christ as it is being spelled in Greek.
The cross symbol was then widely associated with Christians in the second century and crosses were used as Christian symbols without fear.
The cross and Crucifix in Christian art
After the official recognition of Christianity by the Roman state in the early 4th century, images of crosses dominated both Byzantine and medieval iconography, primarily as jeweled crosses. But early Christian art apparently deliberately avoided any graphic portrayals of Christ's suffering and death such as the moment of his crucifixion. To the contrary Christ was mostly represented as victorious over death but not undergoing death. Perhaps repulsed by the ignominious nature of Christ?s death, the earliest Christians depicted the Crucifixion only in veiled forms, such as a lamb lying at the foot of an anchor, a dolphin entwined around a trident, and Ulysses tied to a mast.
It was at the end of the 6th century when representations of the Crucifixion became numerous The early Crucifixions were nevertheless triumphant images, showing Christ alive, with open eyes and with no trace of suffering but rather victorious over death. In the 9th century, Byzantine art began to show a dead Christ, with closed eyes, reflecting current concern with the mystery of his death and the nature of the incarnation. This version was adopted in the West in the 13th century with an ever increasing emphasis on his suffering, in accordance with the mysticism of the period.
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