Spatial icons of deesis and angelic liturgy, image-paradigm of heavenly temple

Mikhail Kozhevnikov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article presents the research of features of hierotopy in apocalypses of medieval Russia. The concept of hierotopy was proposed by Alexei Lidov in 2002. This term means both a process of creation of sacred spaces (understood as a special kind of creativity) and a field of research, devoted to this process and related phenomena. Hierotopy initially was designed to study complex phenomena of iconography, temple architecture and religion. In order to describe previously obscure features and phenomena such terms as 'spatial icons' and 'image-paradigms' were designed. The term 'spatial icon' is understood as a dynamic sacred space created through religious ceremony, when a breathing environment of conducted ritual (with all its elements, participants and surroundings) is seen as a one complex spatial image. The most prominent examples of spatial icons are the ritual with Hoedegetria of Constantinople and medieval Russian ritual of “Donkey walk”. Image-paradigm is an initial sacred space ordered by God himself which is later recreated in other sacred spaces. We can see this phenomenon in attempts to recreate the image of the Holy Land in other places (like in the New Jerusalem monastery in Russia) or in a vision of byzantine temples seen as images of Heavenly Jerusalem. Later, hierotopical studies turned to investigate literature. However these studies rarely covered basic hierotopical phenomena such as image-paradigms and spatial icons. This article explores the image-paradigm of Heavenly Temple and two types of spatial icons. Image-paradigm of Heavenly Temple can be found in the Apocalypse of Abraham, Slavonic book of Enoch and in the Ascension of Isaiah. This image was initially designed in the First book of Enoch in which it echoes the structure of the Jerusalem Temple and the wilderness tabernacle, but also demonstrates its own specific characteristics which then are recreated in the images of Heavenly Temple in the apocalypses mentioned above. Spatial icons of deesis (“Descent of the Virgin into Hell”, “The apocalypse of Paul”) and heavenly liturgy (“The Ascension of Isaiah”, “Slavonic book of Enoch”) are different in their relation to Heavenly Temple. Angelic liturgy is always located in Heavenly Temple and is a remarkable part of this image. Deesis on the other hand isn't linked to any particular location. They are also different in their relation to narrative as a whole and have a different function in its development. The expansion of deesis is consistent and gradual, deterministic in a turning of its stages. Development of this type of spatial icon sets up a culmination for a storyline and drives the plot itself (the wicked punished in hell receive mercy as a consequence of deesis' development). Angelic liturgy, on the contrary, moves along a storyline, its culmination is more of a marker of a storyline's culmination than the means of achieving it.

Translated title of the contributionПространственные иконы деисиса и ангельской литургии, образ-парадигма Небесного храма
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-137
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • 5.04 SOCIOLOGY

State classification of scientific and technological information



Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial icons of deesis and angelic liturgy, image-paradigm of heavenly temple'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this