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The Three-Handed Mother of God, ''Madonna'', handmade Russian icon, Moscow. Early 18th Century.

The Three-Handed Mother of God, ''Madonna'', handmade Russian icon, Moscow. Early 18th Century.

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Icon of The Three-Handed Mother of God, ''Madonna''

Handmade Russian icon, Moscow. Middle 18th C. (1720-1740)

The icon is in very good condition. It is made in four different levels,

First wood, second canvas, third gold leaf and fourth the painting level.

Size: 33.5x27 cm, 13x10.6 inch.

According to tradition, the icon was in the possession of John of Damascus in the early 8th century and it is associated with his miraculous healing around the year 717. According to tradition, while he was serving as Vizier to caliph Al-Walid I, he was falsely accused of treachery and his hand was cut off. The accusation was, allegedly, made by Byzantine Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian, who was indeed a great opponent of St John, and friend of Al-Walid I. Upon praying in front of an icon of the Theotokos, allegedly, his hand was miraculously restored. In thanksgiving, he had a silver replica of his hand fashioned and attached it to the icon. After this, the icon became known as "three-handed" (Tricherousa), because it had three hands (two of Theotokos plus one more).

John Damascene became a monk at Mar Sabbas monastery outside of Jerusalem and gave the icon to the monastic community there. Later the icon was given as a present to St. Sava when he visited the monastery, together with another icon of Theotokos in the style of Nursing Madonna, and with the crosier of Sabbas the Sanctified, the founder of the monastery. 

The Sava brought the icon to Hilandarmonastery where he lived. It remained there until 1347 when it was taken by Dušan of Serbia during his visit to Hilandar and brought with him to Serbia. At the end of the 14th century, the icon was in the possession of the Studenica monastery. In the early 15th century, Trojeručica was back in Hilandar.

Until very recently the icon was formally the abbot of Hilandar, with monks elected to serve as its deputy. This icon has two feast days: July 11 [O.S. June 28] and July 25 [O.S. July 12].

Art historians think the style of the icon is more likely from the 14th century, and that it may be a copy or re-painting of an earlier prototype. Another version brought to Moscow in 1661 became famous and resulted in many Russian copies.


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