orant

orant

[awr-uhnt, ohr-]
noun Fine Arts.
a representation of a female figure, with outstretched arms and palms up in a gesture of prayer, in ancient and early Christian art.
Also, orante [aw-ran-tee, oh-ran-] , orans.


Origin:
1895–1900; < Medieval Latin ōrant- (stem of ōrāns), present participle of ōrāre to plead. See oration, -ant

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orant

in Christian art, a figure in a posture of prayer, usually standing upright with raised arms. The motif of the orant, which seems to reflect the standard attitude of prayer adopted by the first Christians, is particularly important in Early Christian art (c. 2nd-6th century) and especially in the frescoes and graffiti that decorated Roman catacombs from the 2nd century on. Here many of the characters in Old Testament scenes of divine salvation of the faithful, the most commonly represented narrative subjects of the catacombs, are shown in the orant position. The most frequent use of the orant in the catacombs, however, was as an abstract representation of the soul of the deceased. In certain contexts, when it is identified with no particular individual, the orant has been interpreted as a symbol of faith or of the church itself.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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