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The Dormition of Mary: Tradition, Unity, and Autocracy

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The Dormition of Mary: Tradition, Unity, and Autocracy

In the "Dormition" of Mary icon, one may recognize the values of tradition, unity, and autocracy displayed throughout the piece. When compared, these values are also similarly portrayed in the funeral photograph of Michael Jackson. In order to truly observe some of these values, the viewer must look closely at the figures, events, arrangements, and depictions of the icon.

The main focuses of this icon are Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, depicted by their physical arrangement in the center. First off, the artist wants the viewer to understand the strong connection of Jesus and Mary through the tradition of their resurrection. A tradition is a continuing pattern of cultural beliefs or practices, and just as Jesus had died and resurrected, the icon portrays Mary's resurrection as well. The artist represents this by laying Mary down on top of her burial bier and dressing her in black, representing her death. Above her, the resurrected Jesus stands surrounded by angels, and is holding her little body dressed in white, representing her new life with God.

All throughout Christianity, a great number of artists have portrayed Mary holding baby Jesus. In this icon, the artist continues this traditional pattern in a reversed way. Rather than Mary, a young woman, holding baby Jesus, it is now Jesus, a young man, holding baby Mary.

Another tradition that this icon portrays is one of the most common traditions practiced by even the earliest humans, that tradition being the burial, or more commonly known today as the funeral or service. It is not too difficult to see that the artist is depicting a burial here for Mary, with her dull lifeless body lying in the middle of a crowd of mourning individuals. But, this tradition is so strong among nearly all of humanity, and has been passed down for so long, that it can almost be difficult to realize as a tradition and not just human nature.

Another value the artist portrays in this icon is the value of unity. The definition of unity in this first example is the oneness of mind or feeling among a number of persons. Beginning with the physical arrangement, everybody in this icon is depicted as being very close together, almost as if they are trying to squeeze themselves within the walls of the red frame. Here the artist shows us the unity of this special group of people, all coming together as one to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of the Virgin Mary. The way that everybody is depicted here in this icon very much so agrees with that definition.

Another form of unity the artist depicts in this icon defines as the state of being united or combined into one. The artist portrays this is three different ways. The first way the artist shows us unity in this sense has to do with the garments that the bishops are wearing. On these white garments are bold black crosses,



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