ETYM Latin, from Greek eikon.
Sacred or monumental image, statue, painting, etc.; picture on computer monitor to represent command.
In the Greek or Eastern Orthodox Church, a representation of Jesus, Mary, an angel, or a saint, in painting, low relief, or mosaic. The painted icons were traditionally done on wood. After the 17th century and mainly in Russia, a riza, or gold and silver covering that leaves only the face and hands visible (and may be adorned with jewels presented by the faithful in thanksgiving), was often added as protection.
Icons were regarded as holy objects, based on the doctrine that God became visible through Christ. Icon painting originated in the Byzantine Empire, but many examples were destroyed by the iconoclasts in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Byzantine style of painting predominated in the Mediterranean region and in Russia until the 12th century, when Russian, Greek, and other schools developed. Notable among them was the Russian Novgorod school, inspired by the work of the Byzantine refugee Theophanes the Greek. Andrei Rublev is the outstanding Russian icon painter.
A conventional religious picture painted in oil on a small wooden panel; venerated in the Eastern Church; SYN. ikon.