A Byzantine-Style Diskos and Asterisk

By Andrew Gould on March 7, 2013
Diskos and Asterisk designed by Andrew Gould and crafted by Liza Nechamkin Glasser

Diskos and Asterisk designed by Andrew Gould and crafted by Liza Nechamkin Glasser

It is well known that the early Byzantine church used very large patens and loaves of bread in the Divine Liturgy. Surviving examples of patens from the 6th-century are frequently two feet or more in diameter, compared to the six inch diskos typical today. Interestingly, the Melkite church still uses larger patens, and I recently had the privilege of designing such a paten for St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Melkite Church in Rochester, NY.

Father Christopher Manuele contacted me with the idea to create a practical mid-sized diskos modeled on the early Byzantine examples. We settled on 12 inches diameter. I designed the exact profiles and ornamentation that I thought would work best, and sent my drawing to master silversmith Liza Nechamkin Glasser. After a lot of cost estimating, we ultimately decided to make the piece in copper and brass and have it thickly silver plated.

Liza had a wooden form made in order to spin the bowl shape on a lathe. The asterisk is hand-fabricated and set with a carnelian cabochon. After polishing, the piece was sent to a master engraver who engraved the Greek inscription and Byzantine cross using a traditional burin. Finally, it went to the plater for its coating of silver. All three craftspeople – silversmith, engraver, and plater – are former or current employees of Tiffany & Co. As one would expect, the quality of the finished piece is magnificent.

The Greek inscription is an excerpt from the Diving Liturgy: “Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto thee O Lord.”

6th-century Byzantine Diskos in the Russian State Museum

6th-century Byzantine Diskos in the Russian State Museum

Website for New World Byzantine Studios, from which this piece, and other liturgical art, can be ordered: www.nwbstudios.com

Website for Nechamkin Silver Studios: www.nechamkin.com

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  1. Orthodox Collective on March 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

  2. Grigoris on March 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Lovely work. But . . . “Asterix” is the lovable Gaulish comic-book character. The liturgical implement, just like the symbol on your keyboard, is known as an “asterisk” (Gr. ἀστερίσκος). It rhymes with “at your risk.”

    • Andrew Gould on March 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Thanks, I’ve changed that. So much for the spell check on my computer.

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