Excellence in the Christian East - Riza

It has been awhile since we've taken a detour "East" and, for a long while now, I have meant to introduce readers of LAJ to Riza, a maker of Byzantine vestments.  Riza is based out of Australia and have a strong focus on embroidery and beadwork. The beauty and quality of their designs have impressed me for many years now.

To give you a sense of their work, I'm happy to present a few examples of their "made to order" vestments, taken from their website. Enjoy.

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Suzdal: "This complex set of silk vestments was created especially for the period of Great Lent. The orarion, with its Georgian inspired vine of tendrils and flowers is adorned with icons of St. Andrew of Crete, St. Ephrem, St. Gregory and others who feature prominently in the liturgical cycle of the Lenten services. On the sleeves of the stiharion are the icons of the Triumph of Orthodoxy and the Ladder of Divine Ascent, whilst on the back we see the Adoration of the Holy Cross. The prayer of St. Ephrem is embroidered above the heavily worked border at the bottom of the stiharion. The cuffs show icons of the Annunciation."

Iviron 2: "A sakkos with icons of the Major Feasts featuring the ornamental vines characteristic of this design, is combined with the HILANDAR ornamental border and Byzantine style crosses. The cuffs feature delicately hand embroidered icons of the Annunciation, the belt a six winged angel, the epigonation the Mother of God Enthroned, and on the back of the felonion, the Image Made Without Hands."

Ambelos: "With the icon of Christ placed at the very centre and top of the vine, we are reminded of His words directed to the Apostles who are shown amongst the branches of this iconic representation of the Lord's teaching’. This celebratory vestment teaches that in order to be fruitful, we must, like the branch in the vine, abide in Christ and He in us."

Here too is Ambelos in its episcopal version (sakkos):

Nerezi (detail): "A simple pillar ornament from the 12th century monastery of Nerezi, served as the inspiration for this regal set of vestments. NEREZI is executed in one of two ways. Encrusted with pearls, or simply embroidered in your choice of coloured thread. Embroidered in coloured thread with gold highlights on your choice of silk, NEREZI is reminiscent of the late Byzantine vesture of angels and saints in the frescoes and icons of that period. Worked in gold embroidery onto which thousands of various sized pearls and minute sequins have been applied, this impressive pure silk vestment can be done on your choice of coloured silk."

Detail from Nerezi
Bursa 2: "Bursa was once a thriving commercial centre in Asia Minor. For centuries it was a leading centre for the production of rich gold embroideries and many of the finest Byzantine and post Byzantine silks were made there. BURSA2 features rich gold embroidery, embellished with sequins, beads and crystals. This particular design expresses that unique fusion of Eastern and European embroidery traditions, characteristic of work produced in Bursa in the 18th century. The two sets pictured feature gold embroidery on gold silk or ivory silk satin."

From the same series, here is the diaconal vestment:

Egina (detail): "The famous Greek island of EGINA, home of the Holy St. Nectarios is covered with olive and ochre coloured vegetation and surrounded by a sparkling turquoise sea. Olive and turquoise are the two colour schemes which form the basis of this set of very lightweight, unlined vestments of pure silk."

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