Liturgical Fan in the Eastern Orthodox Church
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Liturgical Fan in the Eastern Orthodox Church

The ripidion, or hexapterygon is a ceremonial fan used in Eastern Christian[note 1] worship.[1][2]

Eastern Christian ripidion, 19th century (Pskov museum).

In the Eastern Churches, liturgical fans have been used from the first centuries to the present day. A fan is generally made of metal, round, having the iconographic likeness of a six-winged seraphim and is set on the end of a pole. Fans of carved, gilded, or painted wood are also found. Fans are usually made in pairs.

Armenian silver ripidion, with six-winged seraphim

In the Byzantine Rite, the fans are carried by the altar servers at all processions with Eucharistic gifts and the Gospel Book.[3]; in the Russian tradition they are often also used to honour a particularly sacred icon or relic. When not in use, the fans are usually kept in stands behind the Holy Table in the Greek and Melkite traditions; in the Slavic traditions they may be kept either there or out of sight elsewhere in the altar. The latter is especially true in northern Russia, where icons of Christ and the Theotokos are usually placed behind the Holy Table.

Fans used in the Maronite and Oriental[note 2] traditions are distinctive, having little hoops of metal or bells all around the circumference of the disks, symbolizing the hymns of the angels to God. At particularly solemn points of the liturgy, these are shaken gently to produce a tinkling and jingling sound, akin to the sound of multiple altar bells.

Further reading

Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, James Strong, Oak Harbor, WA, Logos Research Systems, 1995. (. 03742). The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Freedman, David Noel, New York, Doubleday, 1997/1992. Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, De coelesti hierarchia, [Patristische Texte und Studien 36. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1991]

, «?, Larousse, Britannica», ?, , 1976/2006 Catholic Encyclopedia ? ? ? ?

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