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Dormition of the Mother of God (Uspenie Bogomateri)
This Russian icon represents the death (dormition, or “falling asleep”) of the Virgin Mary, a common scene in the Christian East since its introduction in the sixth century during the early Byzantine period. The traditional iconography shows the twelve apostles, miraculously transported by angels from different parts of the world, gathered around Mary’s funerary bier. Here, however, only ten apostles are depicted. The central figure dressed in white is Christ, who has descended from Heaven to take Mary’s soul (dusenka, the small child on his left arm). He extends his right hand in blessing over the body of His Mother who, with crossed hands, lies prone on the bier. In the Orthodox church, the Dormition is one of the twelve major annual festivals and is celebrated on August 28th.