“Annunciation,” reverse of a double-sided painted panel icon from Constantinople, early …—Hirmer Fotoarchiv, Munich

In Eastern Orthodoxy, the representation of sacred persons or events in murals, mosaics, or paintings on wood. After the Iconoclastic Controversy of the 8th–9th century, which disputed the religious function and meaning of icons (see iconoclasm), the Eastern churches formulated an official doctrine that approved their use, stating that since God had assumed material form in the person of Jesus, he and other sacred personages could be represented in works of art. Usually depicting Jesus or Mary but also sometimes saints, icons are relied on as objects of veneration and as tools for instruction.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on icon, visit Britannica.com.

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