In the Spotlight: the Ancient Phos Zoe

phos zoe, greek crossWe are pleased to debut Gallery Byzantium’s newest design: The Ancient Phos Zoe Cross.  This 6th century design features a beautiful acrostic message and is sure to become a treasured part of your collection.
This cross is a “crux immissa quadrata;” a Greek cross easily recognizable for its four arms, each of equal length (the bottom arm of this cross appears to be slightly longer, but that could be due to a lack of precision on the part of the ancient craftsman).  Oftentimes, the arms of this cross will flare out towards the end (as seen on our Nicene Cross, for example). You can see a slight flare at the ends of the left and right arms on the original piece.  According to Symbols Project, “[w]hile the Latin cross is identified with the crucifixion, the Greek cross is usually considered as a sign of God.”

Original 6th century cross. Via

An inherently simple design, the Greek Cross is typically ornamented with additional letters and/or symbols.  Our Ancient Phos Zoe Cross is comprised of the Greek Cross acting as a type of ancient crossword with the words PHOS (“light”) and ZOE (“life”) intersecting.  The crossed words reflect the crucified Christ, proclaiming him as the light and life of the world.

This ancient Byzantine cross is believed to be from Cyprus and is now a part of the collection at the Freer Gallery of Art.  Cyprus, due to its central location in the Mediterranean, has acted as a hub for voyagers and trade.  Perhaps this led to the Byzantine influences we see on this Greek Cross.
Cyprus has a long history of jewelry-making, namely filigree designs, which continues today.  We found a wonderful video showing the process and finished product from these artisans.  You can view the video below or click here to view it directly on YouTube.

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