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Votive Offerings

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[[Image:Chania - Kathedrale - Marienikone.jpg|right|thumb|''Tamata'' (votive offerings) placed in front of an icon of the [[Theotokos]] in the Cathedral of [[w:Chania|Chania]], Crete.]] [[Image:Tricherousa.jpg|right|thumb|Wonderworking icon Archdiocese of the [[Theotokos]], "The Three-handed". The third hand in silver is a votive offering given by St. [[John of Damascus]] in thanksgiving for a miracle.]][[Image:Chapel of St. James IMG 0495.jpgCrete|right|thumb|Icon of the Virgin Mary in the Chapel of St. James in the [[Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)|Church of the Holy SepulcherCrete]], with various votive offerings attached.]]
'''Votive Offerings''' ({{el icon}}: τάμα ''' ''Tama'' ''' (''"vow"''), pl. τάματα ''' ''Tamata'' ''' (''"vows"'');<ref group="note">Synonym: {{el icon}} Όρκος ''' - ''Orkos'' ''' (''Oath, Vow'').</ref> {{la icon}}: ''' ''[[w:Ex-voto|Ex Voto]] Suscepto,'' ''' (''"from the vow made"'')) or ''' ''Ex Votos'' ''' refers to those things that are [[w:Vow|vowed]] or dedicated to [[God]], the [[Theotokos]], or a [[saint]], and are in consequence looked upon as being set apart by this act of [[consecration]], and as an expression of reverence and thanksgiving.
They can be grouped into three different types of offerings including: (a) votives consisting of actions or material things that are vowed to [[God]] (or promised to the [[Theotokos]] or to a [[Saint]] for their intercession with God), in return for a hoped-for [[miracle]]; (b) votives offered in thanksgiving for already-answered [[prayer]]s; or (c) votives given in thanksgiving for [[w:Blessings#Christianity|blessings]] not asked for.<refname=FISH>''[ Votive Offerings].'' '''Fish Eaters'''. Retrived 2012-11-19.</ref>
Traditionally the [[w:Spiritual practice|spiritual practice]] of making vows that are sealed by the votive offering has been common among the faithful in the [[Orthodox Church]], particularly in the [[Greek Orthodox]] Church.
[[Image:Chapel of St. James IMG 0495.jpg|right|thumb|Icon of the [[Virgin Mary]] in the Chapel of St. James, in the [[Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)|Church of the Holy Sepulcher]], with various votive offerings attached.]]
The making of vows is a pious [[w:Spiritual practice|spiritual expression]] that was a customary practice among the ancient Greeks and Hebrews.<ref group="note">See: Dr. [[w:W. H. D. Rouse|W. H. D. Rouse]]. ''[ Greek Votive Offerings: An Essay in the History of Greek Religion].'' Cambridge: The University Press, 1902. 463pp.</ref> The idea is very old and springs from man's instinctive attitude towards the higher powers.<ref>Jarrett, Bede. ''"[ Votive Offerings]."'' '''The Catholic Encyclopedia'''. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.</ref><ref group="note">See:<br>
* {{fr icon}}: [ Édouard Dhorme]. ''"Choix des textes religeux assyro-babyloniens"''. XXXVII, Paris, 1907.
* [[w:Aristotle|Aristotle]]. ''"[[w:Politics_(Aristotle)|Politics]]".'' [[w:Politics_(Aristotle)#Book_VII|VII]], xii.</ref> The  In relation to the worship of Ancient Israel, the term [[w:Korban|Korban]] (offering) was used for a variety of sacrificial offerings described and commanded in the Hebrew Bible, including the [[w:Korban Olah|Korban Olah]] (burnt offering) and [[Holy Scripturesw:Korban Pesach|Korban Pesach]] ([[Passover]] refer sacrifice). Specifically relating to the making of vows in several instances , the [[Holy Scriptures]] contain a number of references including:<br>
:* [[Genesis]] 28:20-22,<ref group="note">'''Genesis 28:20-22'''. "Then Jacob made a vow saying, "If the [[Lord]] [[God]] will be with me, and keep me in this way I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, and bring me back in safety to my father's house, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone I set as a pillar shall be God's house to me, and of all You give me I will surely give a [[tithe]] to You." "</ref>
:* [[Book of Numbers|Numbers]] 6:1-21,<ref group="note">'''Numbers 6:1-21'''. '''Law Concerning Vows.''' "Now the Lord spoke to [[Moses]], saying, "Speak to the children of [[Israel]], and say to them, 'When either a man or woman vows an extraordinary vow to sanctify himself as one of purity to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and intoxicants, and shall not drink any wine and vinegar made from wine, and any vinegar made from intoxicants; neither shall he drink anything made from grapes, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin. All the days of his vow of purification no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he vowed to the Lord; he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days of his vow to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. He shall not defile himself even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they [[Death|die]], because the vow of his God is on his head. All the days of his vow he shall be holy to the Lord. But if anyone dies very suddenly near him on the spot, the head of his vow shall be defiled; and he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the [[priest]], to the door of the [[Tabernacle (biblical)|tabernacle of testimony]]. The the priest shall make one a sin offering and the other a whole burnt offering and make atonement for him, concerning which he sinned in regard to the corpse; and he shall [[Sanctification|sanctify]] his head that day. He shall sanctify to the Lord the days of his vow, and bring a male lamb in its first year as a trespass offering; but the former days shall be null and void, because the head of his vow was defiled.<br>Now this is the law of vowing: When the days of his vow are fulfilled, he shall be brought to the doors of the [[Tabernacle (biblical)|tabernacle of testimony]]. Then he shall offer his gift to the Lord: one male lamb in its first year without blemish as a whole burnt offering, one ewe lamb in its first year without blemish as a sin offering, one ram without blemish as a peace offering, a basket of unleavened bread of fine flour, prepared with oil, and unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and their grain offering with their drink offering. Then the [[priest]] shall bring these things before the Lord and offer his sin offering and his whole burnt offering; and he shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest shall also offer his grain offering and his drink offering. Then the one vowing shall shave the head of his vow at the doors of the tabernacle of testimony; and he shall put his hair on the fire, which is under the sacrifice of the peace offering. Then the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, one unleavened loaf from the basket, and one unleavened cake, and put these upon the hands of the one vowing, after he has shaved the head of his vow; and the priest shall bring these things as a deposit offering before the Lord; they are holy for the priest, together with the breast of the deposit offering and the thigh of the choice portion. After that, the one vowing may drink wine.' This is the law of the one vowing, who vows to the Lord his gift to the Lord concerning his vow; and the force of his vow is not limited to what he could afford regarding his vow, which he vows according to the law of purity." "</ref>
<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 [[w:Propitiation|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>
===Forms===[[File:Paraskevi-votive.jpg|left|thumb|An icon of Saint [[Paraskevi]], considered to be a healer of the blind, with Tamata hung beside it.]]These votive offerings constitute an extremely varied list. However the most common forms of Tamata in Orthodox usage 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, whether it be straightforward or more metaphorical. A Thus, a heart may [[Symbolism|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 [[Marriage#Office_of_crowning|wedding crowns]] may mean a prayer for a happy [[marriage]]; a torso, for afflictions of the body, and so forth.
<blockquote>The offerings themselves usually fall into one of three broad categories: (1) representations of the individual offerer, especially small gold or silver plated [[w:Effigy|effigies]] of the bodily part to be cured...which are hung before the [[icon]] of the benefactor; also candles the height or weight of the beneficiary; or (2) personal valuables such as necklaces or rings; (2) , some of which are later melted and used as adornments for the icon of the supernatural invoked, especially the gold or silver plating of parts of the icon such as the [[Mandorla|halo]] or hands; and (3) humbling acts taken up by votants in the service of the benefactor, especially crawling up the steps of a particular church, begging in behalf of the saint's church, or working for the church community in some self-effacing capacity.<ref name="TESKE"/></blockquote>
Tamata may be bought in shops selling Greek Orthodox religious items, and then hung near an [[icon]] or [[shrine]] of a [[saint]], by using a ribbon tied on a pole, or on hooks, the act of which is usually accompanied with a [[prayer]], and sometimes with the lighting of a votive candle.
As the contractual nature of the vow implies, most offerings are made only after fulfillment of the offerer's request by the [[saint]], and the actual presentations are made almost secretively, with no ostentation. The presentations occasionally take place in the presence of the offerer's immediate family, and often without the knowledge of the local [[priest]].<ref name="TESKE"/>  ===Notable Examples===[[Image:Tricherousa.jpg|right|thumb|Wonderworking icon of the [[Theotokos]], "The Three-handed". The third hand in silver is a votive offering given by St. [[John of Damascus]] in thanksgiving for a miracle.]][[Pilgrimage]] sites often include [[shrine]]s that are decorated with many tamata.
One of the most famous Orthodox votive offerings historically is that by Saint [[John of Damascus]]. According to tradition, while he was serving as [[w:Vizier|Vizier]] to the Caliph, he was falsely accused of treachery and his hand was cut off. Upon praying in front of an icon of the [[Theotokos]] his hand was miraculously restored. In thanksgiving, he had a silver replica of his hand fashioned and attached it to the icon. This icon, now called "[[Panagia Tricherousa|Tricherousa]]" or "Trojeručica" (''The Three-handed'') and is preserved at [[Chilandari Monastery (Athos)|Chilandari Monastery]] on [[Mount Athos]].
Another example relates to the founding of [[Kamenny Monastery]]. In 1260, Duke Gleb Vasilkovich, [[w:Prince of Beloozero|Prince of Belozersk]], while going from [[w:Lake Beloye (Vologda Oblast)|White Lake]] to [[w:Veliky Ustyug|Ustyug]] by water, was caught by a severe storm on Lake Kubenskoye and at the minute of danger he made a vow to lay a [[church]] and a monastery at the place where he would reach the coast. His vessel was washed ashore on Stone Island, where there were twenty three [[hermit]]s living on the island, who being poor, had no church. The Prince ordered a church to be built in the name of Transfiguration of Our Saviour, and wooden [[cell]]s. Ever since then the monastery of [[Kamenny Monastery|Spasso-Kamenny]] was patroned by the princes of Belozersk and thrived, became populous and well-equipped.
===Related Traditions===
Tamata correspond almost exactly to the [[w:Milagro (votive)|Milagros]] traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in the [[Roman Catholic Church|Roman Catholic]] cultures of Mexico, the southern United States, Latin America, and parts of the Iberian peninsula.
Ex voto offerings most often take the form of the lighting of candles, the placing of flowers or pictures before icons, and leaving thank-you notes, money, or little tokens on or near the altars or statues of Saints in churches, shrines, or family altars. The leaving of little tokens is most common in Mediterranean cultures ([[Church of Greece|Greece]], Italy, Portugal, Spain) and the cultures they gave rise to, especially Mexico.<ref name=FISH/>
In Mexico, ex-voto artworks -- almost always painted on tin sheets since the 19th century -- are extremely popular and usually include not only an artistic depiction of the blessings concerned and the Heavenly intercessor who helped make it happen, but a section of text at the bottom that describes the event in words. The works are taken to churches and publicly displayed to act as a witness to God's power and to give Him thanks. So popular are ex-voto paintings in Mexico, that the walls of some churches are literally covered with them.<ref name=FISH/>
Usually, paintings and other artworks offered ex voto depict the miracles for which the votive is being offered, and many bear the intials "VFGA" which stand for the Latin "Votum Fecit Gratiam Accepit" -- "Vow made, graces received," simply "E.V." for "Ex Voto" ("in fulfillment of a vow"), or some vernacular equivalent.<ref name=FISH/>
Crippled people bring their crutches and wheelchairs to the shrines of Saints who've interceded in their healing, and certain shrines have become known for being places where Saintly intercession is especially powerful.<ref name=FISH/>
The primary message that the votive contains and transmits would appear to be man's dependence upon and subservience to the will of [[God]], and God's concern for man and occasional susceptibility to his influence. This notion is neatly packaged in the relation of the material or behavioral offering of the individual community member, to the symbolic locus of the offering's presentation, the Orthodox church. The [[Church architecture|Orthodox church building]] has long been recognized as a [[Symbolism|symbolic]] representation of the Divine Kingdom, and the pattern of its decoration "has the character of a clear and precise theological system." Within the context of such a large-scale, hierarchically arranged, symbolic representation of the Orthodox cosmology, votive offerings - especially those described above as being primarily representations of the individual - acquire a clear and precise significance. They constitute a means by which man is capable of inserting himself [[Symbolism|symbolically]] into an equally symbolic representation of the cosmos, a means by which man can express his place in the spiritual world and his relationship to other spiritual beings.<ref>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. 212-214.</ref>
File:Gold plaque.jpg|Gold Votive plaque, with the [[Labarum|Chi Rho]] Christogram (''Ancient Roman jewellery in the British Museum, 4th century.'')
==See also==
* [[w:Votive candle|Votive candle]]
* [[w:Propitiation|Propitiation]]
* [[w:Divine providence|Divine providence]]

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