I was wondering if someone could explain some of the more common initials I see on Eastern iconography. I know that IC XC means ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (“Jesus Christ”), and I think ΜP θC means Μητηρ θεος (“Mother of God”), or maybe it’s Mary (in Greek) followed by Θεοτόκος (Theotokos, “God-bearer”). The “NIKA” that’s sometimes appended to IC XC means “conquers”.
But there are some other icons I see that have letters that I can’t account for. For example, in many icons that show Jesus with a halo, there are three Greek letters in the halo (I think omicron, omega, and nu) as seen here. What do those stand for?
Perhaps people could share some pictures of icons here and explain not only the Greek letters/abbreviations/words, but also the significance of the other features (such as the positioning of fingers, etc.). I know, for example, the hand posture that indicates ICXC, found in the Pantokrator. But I’m sure there are other features and symbols I’m missing, since I’m not an Eastern Catholic and haven’t really been taught about icons.