An ancient decorative art form
An exhibition at the Byzantine and Christian Museum follows the long history of enamel making
A golden cuff bracelet from around the 9th-10th century. Enameling was perfected during the Byzantine period. It later spread to the West, where it flourished in the 12th century
By A. KOROXENIDIS
An art that was born in Greece during the Mycenaean period and spread throughout the world is the subject of “Enamels: Color over the Course of Time,” an exhibition currently being held at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. About 170 items drawn from various museum collections (such as the Byzantine and Christian, the National Archaeological, the Benaki and the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki) as well as the G. Tsolozidis and the C. Antonakis private collections follow the development of the art of enameling from ancient Greece and the Byzantine period through the present and across Europe, to the Middle and Far East. Representative pieces from each period, such as jewelry, ecclesiastical vessels, religious icons and decorative or utility objects, reveal the inherent qualities in the miniature art of enameling: the detailed work, the various techniques, the intricate patterns and decorative motifs and the mixing of metals with color without the use of stones.
The raw material of enamels is glass that is pulverized in a mortar and mixed with various metal oxides to produce different colors. The powder-like mixture is then placed on a metal surface and fired in a special kiln, forming an inseparable mass with the metal. The process is analyzed in the exhibition.
Three rings that were found in 15th-century BC tholos tombs (circular, subterranean burial chambers) from Mycenae, Volos and Laconia place the origins of the art of enameling in the Greek civilization of the Mycenaean period.
More with details from the article from Kathimerini newspaper : http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_civ_5038698_01/02/2008_92829