March 9, 2021

Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and Holy Warriors Ivory Triptych

State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

X-XI centuries
18.5 × 24.2 cm (unfolded)

The central plate of the triptych depicts forty martyrs on Lake Sebaste. Above is Christ in a halo, supported by angels, three on each side. A Greek inscription is scratched on the background: οἵ ἅγιοι τεσαράϰοντα. On the side flaps, the holy warriors are tall, in pairs in two rows on each: at the top left - George and Theodore the Tiro, below - Demetrios and Mercurios; top right - Eustathios and Eustratios, below - Theodore Stratilates and Prokopios. Near each is his name. On the shields of Demetrios and Procopios and the scabbard of the sword of Theodore Stratilates imitation of Arabic inscriptions. The silver setting and coloring (gold stars on a blue background) are later. On the back of the side flaps there is an engraved four-pointed cross with rosettes at the crosshairs and at the ends.

According to some scholars, the triptych was made in the XIV century. However, the nature of the outline of the Arabic inscriptions does not allow it to be dated later than the 11th century.

Received in 1928 from the collection of P.P. Shuvalov.

State of preservation: Crack on the right wing at the bottom. The swords of Demetrios and Theodore Stratilates are broken.
Tryptych folded
Sts. George and Theodore the Tiro
St. Mercurios