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Old Jan 1, '08, 11:48 pm
Irish Melkite Irish Melkite is offline
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Join Date: May 25, 2004
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Religion: Melkite Greek Catholic
Smile Re: Chaldean Catholic Church

Originally Posted by ronyodish View Post
Chaldeans have icons, but they are mostly borrowed from other Catholic traditions. Genuine Chaldean icons are very rare. The Cross remains a very important symbol for us. Traditionally, a veil rather than an iconostatsis is used, but not all churches have this veil. Here is an example of a veiled Chaldean Catholic church.

Assyrians prefer the Cross as their chief symbol of the Faith, rather than the use of iconography. So, genuine Assyrian icons are also very rare, and typically you will not find any icons in their churches. Here is an example of an Assyrian church
I would agree with my brother, Rony, as to the absence of iconography as a strong tradition in the modern-day Assyrian and Chaldean Churches. There is some evidence that the usage was lost in the centuries under Muslim domination, given the Muslim proscriptions against such. (The Assyro-Chaldeans have probably been under Muslim domination more intensively and for a longer period than any other of the Christian ecclesia in the Middle East).

Additionally, there may have been some internal opposition to continuation or christianization of an art form that had a long-standing history among their peoples in pre-Christian times - seeing it as something associated with paganism and, therefore, to be abandoned. Historic pre-Christian Assyro-Chaldean iconography was of a sculpted nature and has long been admired as an archeological treasure. You can see some examples here and here of its beauty and richness.

(Btw, the extraordinary visuals to be seen on the latter site make it well worth bookmarking and exploring at your liesure. Daniel Matsui's blog is principally a compendium of incredible imagery, most of a religious nature, and is ever-fascinating.)

The uncovering of some early Assyro-Chaldean Christian iconographic images a few years back, sparked an interest and a call for revival of the usage, but there has been no groundswell of demand to do so as yet by clergy or laity of either Church. Presently, from my observations, those who would pursue it as other than a curiousity are those involved in intense study of the historical theological and spiritual praxis of the Churches. In an era when the faithful of both Churches are witnessing their historic homeland buffeted by secular violence, it's a less pressing concern for most than merely surviving and sustaining their ability to worship according to their faith. Hopefully, in time, that will change and it will be further explored.

The use of a veil rather than an iconostasis is common among the Oriental Churches (albeit neither the Chaldeans nor Assyrians are technically Oriental - given the timing of their origins). If you look closely at the Assyrian church photo which Rony supplied, you can see it at the sides of the sanctuary there as well.

Many years,

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