Mosaic Floor

4th century
Ohrid, North Macedonia

The floor is from the original basilica at Plaošnik. The central figure is a kantharos fountain. The trefoil-like white shape in the top of the kantharos is a stylized fountainhead seen in similar images. Also common in images of this type in Ohrid is the bob-and-triangle shape of the foot.

From the kantharos there emerges an elaborate vine yielding plentiful fruit for the birds represented in it. Most of the birds are peacocks with unfurled tails; they can be identified by the characteristic shape of the unfurled tail, the short beaks, long legs, and splayed three-toed feet.

By relating this image to others featuring a kantharos fountain and to scripture, one can see that the birds symbolize the faithful and the central figure symbolizes Christ, who has said, "I am the vine and you are the branches" (John 15:5).

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Read more about the kantharos symbol.

Photo © by Jan Piebe Tjepkema