Prosphora seals

I hope someone here might be able to help.

I'm looking for a eucharistic bread seal of dimensions somewhere between 6-15 cm.

Importantly, I would very much prefer it not to bear the Greek-style arrangement of the five squares arranged in a cruciform manner. What I'm looking for is one with an icon of the Saviour, or a simple large cross or arrangement of crosses, or any suitable christogram. The cross with ICXC/NIKA would be acceptable if I can't find anything else and I have found good (and affordable!) examples of this already but I just wondered whether anyone here might have knowledge or experience of others that I might not have encountered or imagined.

I have limited expereience of baing bread for the Eucharist but for those with more experience, do you find a particular sort to be more effective over the others? I started out with a plastic sort and the seal bit kept detaching from the handle after becoming stuck to the dough. Since I migrated to wood I had no problems but the seal wasn't as clear as the plastic. This improved after I ignored the advice I was given and applied the seal only after the second rising.

I would appreciate any thoughts.

Comments

  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    (I don’t understand why so many have a two headed eagle on.)
  • From Google:

    'In heraldry and vexillology, the double-headed eagle is a charge associated with the concept of Empire. Most modern uses of the symbol are directly or indirectly associated with its use by the Roman/East Roman Empire, whose use of it represented the Empire's dominion over the Near East and the West.'

    A fascinatingly abstruse subject, @Cyprian, and I hope your researches prove fruitful!

    Google also has lots of illustrations/information regarding Prosphora Seals, of course.
  • In this context, I suspect the double-headed eagle is a reference to Byzantium. If I remember right, the emblem of the Ecumenical Patriarch includes a double-headed eagle for that reason.
  • I tend to associate with military dictators, hence my surprise.
  • Well, given the association with 'Empire', I can see why, but the pedigree seems to go back a long way...
  • Well, er...yes...
    :grimace:

    Back to the Seals - what beautiful little works-of-art some of them are!
    :smile:
  • I don't know what the Orthodox rules are on bread for the Eucharist, but my knowledge of baking suggests that anything you want pressed into the bread before or during cooking will need some sort of coating to prevent it sticking. Generally your choices are something to lubricate (i.e. oil, presumably olive) or something to dust (flour or semolina being the most common options). If neither of these is an option I don't know what else to suggest.

    On the (annual, Maundy Thursday) occasion when I prepare bread for communion I make unleavened bread, and cook it in a dry frying pan in a similar manner to that by which I might a tortilla or naan.
  • We have a pan that has the imprint in the bottom. It's the Greek five-square version. But the seal NEVER bakes out of the top of the bread.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »

    Is that a rather overweight bishop demonstrating the new style of vestments?
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited September 2019

    Thank you for this, Doublethink. :smile:

    This is the sort of thing I was thinking of with the icon but for my needs it would really need to be one of the Saviour. I had a look at some of the same seller's other items and wasn't able to find one. There's a lovely one of the Mother of God, though. I'll keep searching.
    (I don’t understand why so many have a two headed eagle on.)

    It's essentially what Nick Tamen said. The mats on which bishops customarily stand during services usually depict an eagle with its wings spread over a city, and it represents the bishop's pastoral care over his diocese. However, I've noticed that in Greek churches the city is often absent and the eagle is often of the double-headed variety. I'm told it's due to the historic link to imperial Byzantium.
    A fascinatingly abstruse subject, @Cyprian

    :smiley: I do my best.
    and I hope your researches prove fruitful!

    Thank you for this.

    As it happens, I've found some rather lovely ones. I'm quite partial to the simple Cross on the larger side of this one. I've come across some Coptic ones which might also be possibilities.
    I don't know what the Orthodox rules are on bread for the Eucharist, but my knowledge of baking suggests that anything you want pressed into the bread before or during cooking will need some sort of coating to prevent it sticking. Generally your choices are something to lubricate (i.e. oil, presumably olive) or something to dust (flour or semolina being the most common options). If neither of these is an option I don't know what else to suggest.

    Thank you for this, Arethosemyfeet. I usually lightly dust the final risen doughball with a bit of flour before applying the wooden seal. I think the flour combined with the timing has helped a lot. I still have the plastic seal but it really is quite useless. The slightest bit of sticking and it just comes apart. :disappointed:
    mousethief wrote: »
    We have a pan that has the imprint in the bottom. It's the Greek five-square version. But the seal NEVER bakes out of the top of the bread.

    I saw this on a recent Facebook post of yours and thought it was quite splendid. I even had a look at the seller's website in the hope that they might do other versions.

    I would get it but the reason I'm not overkeen on this design is that our rite (St Germanus) doesn't have the various cuttings of portions of the bread during the Preparation that are done in the Byzantine Preparation rite, and during the Liturgy itself the Fraction is done by hand rather than with a spear. I've seen the Greek-style of seal in use in one of our other parishes and, while it does no harm, I suppose because I know what it is all for, the fact that it doesn't "fit" just makes it seem out of place.
  • It might be fun / a meditative spiritual practice to make one yourself - in the way one might write an icon. You could find any simple image that appeals, and etch it onto wood.
  • (FWIW pulling apart the image might be a little disturbing, rather than destroying the symbol of his torture.)
  • Now that would be a Bake Off challenge to watch!
  • It might be fun / a meditative spiritual practice to make one yourself - in the way one might write an icon. You could find any simple image that appeals, and etch it onto wood.

    I appreciate your faith in my abilities but, alas, I am not blessed with high bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence. I can just about manage drawing a stick-person, and even then it looks malnourished.
  • You could find an image you like and trace it on ?
  • teddybearteddybear Shipmate Posts: 16
    edited September 2019
    These are carved wood prosphora seals from Ukraine. I have purchased carved icons from there that are incredible in their beauty.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    I thought I would offer a little update.

    It has taken some while but I have found some that are just what I need from this seller. I ordered a small one by mistake, having misunderstood the instructions for ordering different sizes from the ones advertised. I was a little disappointed at my error but it gave me the opportunity to see that they are of excellent quality, unlike the plastic offering I'd been persevering with in the past.

    I've ordered one of each of this and this.

    There are a number of things that my little mission still needs and I've been wondering whether I've been too fussy in insisting on them being just right before I invest in them rather than making do with something more readily available but not quite right for its purpose. This has taught me that I've taken the right approach and that patience and perseverance are sometimes rewarded.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Those are lovely. :smile:

    Here is another site with many interesting stamps to pore over. I especially like the Trinity Angels one and Our Lady of the Sign. Unfortunately they are pretty pricey. :neutral: http://www.istok.net/orthodox-prosphora-seals/ I'm glad you found ones you like.
  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    Are the seals with figures (e.g. Prophet Elias or St George) used differently from the ones with the traditional design? They don't seem to give any guidelines for the priest cutting out the Lamb or the various particles.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Lyda wrote: »
    Those are lovely. :smile:

    Here is another site with many interesting stamps to pore over. I especially like the Trinity Angels one and Our Lady of the Sign. Unfortunately they are pretty pricey. :neutral: http://www.istok.net/orthodox-prosphora-seals/ I'm glad you found ones you like.

    Istok does some good things. Two of my cassocks come from there. One has served me well for 11 years now and through quite significant weight gains, losses, and gains again, due to their adjustable design. But yes, sometimes you definitely pay for the quality.
    cgichard wrote: »
    Are the seals with figures (e.g. Prophet Elias or St George) used differently from the ones with the traditional design? They don't seem to give any guidelines for the priest cutting out the Lamb or the various particles.

    In Byzantine practice, I've only ever seen those ones used as the people's loaves, offered with their lists of names/commemoration books. So they aren't actually consecrated as the Body of Christ. During the Preparation, the priest cuts particles from the side of the loaf while commemorating the living and departed from the list of the person who offered it. Then it gets returned to the person afterwards, along with the book.

    We don't have an equivalent to that in Western practice but I suppose there's no reason why we couldn't use that sort of seal for the pain bénit, which is roughly our equivalent to the antidoron.
  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    Thanks for the explanation, @Cyprian. Because my Orthodox community is so small, I tend to forget about things that happen in larger places, such as people's loaves.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    cgichard wrote: »
    Thanks for the explanation, @Cyprian. Because my Orthodox community is so small, I tend to forget about things that happen in larger places, such as people's loaves.

    I can definitely relate to that.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Lovely!
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    I'm so glad you like them. Slowly we're accumulating the things we're going to need.
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