'''Votive Offerings''' or [[w:Ex-voto|ex-votos]] (Greek: τάμα ''' ''Tama'' ''', pl. τάματα ''' ''Tamata'' ''') refers to those things that are vowed or dedicated to [[God]] or a [[saint]], and are in consequence looked upon as being set apart by this act of [[consecration]]. Traditionally the use of votive offerings has been common in the [[Orthodox Church]], particularly in the [[Greek Orthodox]] Church.
In general terms a votive offering or tama may be offered at the [[icon]] or [[shrine]] of a [[saint]], as a reminder of a petitioner's particular need, and as a fulfillment of their intended vow or promise. They are also offered
additionally in gratitude for a [[prayer]] or vow that has already been answered.
<blockquote>"The vow usually takes the form of a commitment by the offerer to present some material gift to the supernatural benefactor if the benefactor grants the supplicant's particular request. Moreover, it is the making of the vow prior to the offering itself that, in the minds of [the faithful], distinguishes the votive offering from such other forms as the propitiatory or thank offering. While votive offerings are sometimes made in other situations of crisis or uncertain control such as the opening of a new business or the confrontation of one's son with the vagaries of the military draft, most frequently votives are employed in response to illnesses for which no other cure can be found. Promises and subsequent offerings are directed toward individual or local [[Patron saint|patrons]], or toward saints believed to be especially powerful in dealing with certain maladies, such as the [[Theotokos|Panaghia]] (Virgin Mother) who is frequently called upon to aid in conception or childbirth, or Saint [[Paraskevi]] who is regarded as especially efficacious in treating afflictions of the eyes."<ref name=TESKE>Robert T. Teske. ''Votive Offerings and the Belief System of Greek-Philadelphians''. '''Western Folklore.''' Vol. 44, No. 3, Healing, Magic, and Religion (Jul., 1985), pp. 209.</ref></blockquote>
Tamata usually take the form of small metal plaques, which may be of base or precious metal, usually with an embossed image symbolizing the subject of the prayer for which the plaque is offered. A wide variety of images may be found on tamata, which lend themselves to multiple interpretations. A heart may symbolize a prayer for love, or a heart problem. Eyes may indicate an eye affliction; hands or legs may indicate maladies of the limbs; a pair of wedding crowns may mean a prayer for a happy [[marriage]]; a torso, for afflictions of the body, and so forth.
==Sources and further reading==
* [[w:Tama (votive)|Tama (votive)]] at Wikipedia.
* Robert T. Teske. ''Votive Offerings and the Belief System of Greek-Philadelphians''. '''Western Folklore.''' Vol. 44, No. 3, Healing, Magic, and Religion (Jul., 1985), pp. 208-224.
:<small>''(Paper discussing the votive offering as employed by the members of the Greek-American community of Philadelphia, based on fieldwork conducted between 1972 and 1974)''</small>
*[http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk/server.php?show=conObject.22505&search_word=Tamata&pp=10¤t_browser_object=1 Tamata - Greek Votive Offerings - Votive plaques]. Exploring 20th Century London.
*[http://www.greekfleamarket.com/votives.htm Votives (Tamata)]. GreekFleaMarket.com.