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by Archaeology Newsroom

Dance in the Post-Byzantine Monumental Religious Painting (15th-19th Century)

Dance, an act closely connected with worship, al¬though has often been rejected and condemned by the Church Fathers as immoral retained its special position both in worship and in everyday life. In the Post-Byzantine years, where the repertoire of representa tional arts continues that of the Byzantine era, dance is represented in monumental painting, in particular, which has become the most effective popular illustrated ecclesiastical book of the period. Thus, among the oldest subjects incorporating dance are the ones related with theatrical in structure scenes (Mocking of Christ) and banquets (Banquet of Herod with the Dance of Salome), as well as with other festive activities (Cross-mg of the Red Sea with the Dance of Manam or the Praises with the dance of Psalm 149 and 150). At the same time dance is also present in newly introduced subjects [Life of Saint George, Parable of the Prodigal Son. Three Youths in the Furnace, Allegory of the Supreme Jerusalem), which belong in reality to the established iconographical program of Byzantine painting.

However, the Praises, illustrating the Psalms 148-150, is the subject par excellence in which dance is de¬picted Dance in the Praises, an individual or group performance or even a harmonious congregation of believers and saints, is mainly depicting the psalmic verses 149.3 and 150.4 and offers a good chance for the representation not only of specific kinds of dance, like the round dance, but also of the dressing habits and the jewelry of the time. Furthermore, by consider¬ing the relevant to the Resurrection notations of the Psalms’ editors and the historical practice of the Church, which includes dance performed in the church on Easter day, we can trace the symbolic, soteriologic content of dance.

In conclusion, dance in the Post-Byzantine years has been considered as the exhilarating expression of the believers in Paradise, and at the same time as the direct, appealing way for manifesting the joy of the life in the Church, a joy absent from the hard reality of the Ottoman period.