Coptic Iconography

Looking into Coptic culture, visual tools were absolutely necessary in understanding stories of our ancestors, theology and more broadly, the Biblical story. While Coptic iconography certainly appeals to the artistic eye, it doesn’t focus on drawing attention to itself but is a visual tool that helps Christians reflect on morality and God. Coptic iconography is a visual language that communicated to the illiterate back then and continues to speak the language of Christianity to people today. It has a distinct style in accentuating facial features within any painting – this is among many of the symbolic attributes that make iconography a visual gospel. Meanwhile, it is slightly more abstract than it is realistic but efficiently conveys the story and message to the viewer. It is important to note that every aspect of Coptic iconography alludes to a certain component in Christianity. This includes the colours, the traditional mediums used, the layering process, stylistic features and the technique that is practiced. Ultimately, the iconographer is known to never “paint” the icon but “write” it: this continues to serve as a helpful reminder in viewing the icon itself and understanding the motive behind creating icons in the first place.