Icons are also silent. A close observation indicates that the mouths of the characters depicted are never open; there are no symbols that can indicate sound. There is perfect silence in the icon and this stillness and silence creates, both in the church and in the home an atmosphere of prayer and contemplation. Icons are not three-dimensional. Perspective in the icon does not exist. The attempt is made to suggest depth, but the frontal plane is never abandoned, because the icon is not a representation of our conscious world, but an attempt to suggest the beauty of the Kingdom of God. Natural objects are therefore rendered in a vivid but symbolic, sometimes an abstract manner, because spiritual reality cannot be represented in images, except through the use of symbols.
GOD THE FATHER is depicted as the "Ancient of Days" and has been used as a source of inspiration in art and music, denoting the Creator's aspects of eternity combined with perfection. Daniel 7:13-14 says, “I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin."
GLOBUS CRUCIGER (Latin) is an orb (globus) topped with a cross (cruciger), a Christian symbol of God's (the cross) dominion over the world (the orb), held under the protection and dominion of an earthly ruler.
THE DESCENDING DOVE – This is one of the most popular representations of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:16 describes the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and resting upon Jesus at His baptism. This symbol was used almost exclusively for the Holy Spirit during the first eleven centuries. The dove should always be white in color. The circle represents eternity.
- The letters and words depicted in icons are generally from the Greek language.
COLORS - Color plays an important role in iconography.
- The top words translate “Blessed Trinity”.
- The words inside the upper circle by the descending dove translate “Holy Spirit”.
- In the halo around Jesus the Greek letters O W N stand for "He Who is", the closest in Greek you can get to YHVH.
- The Greek letters “IC XC” is the monogram for “Jesus Christ”, a widely used four letter abbreviation of the Greek for Jesus (IHCOYC) Christ (XPICTOC).
- An icon where Christ has an open book is called "Christ the Teacher". The letters on the left page represent “Alpha and Omega”.
- The letters by God the Father are the Greek for "Lord of Hosts".
- Gold represents the radiance of Heaven. The most impressive thing on the icon is gold. People think that the icons are gilded because of luxury and to them it seems contrary to modesty which the Church proclaims. Icons are not gilded because of luxury. Gold is most noticeable and one of the most important symbols on icons as it symbolizes the truth. Truth does not change, it is always the same in all life's circumstances and all conditions, such as gold, which does not change neither of its properties, neither the appearance, whether it is in fire or in water.
- Red is the color representing divine life.
- Blue is the color representing human life,
- White is the uncreated essence of God
- Jesus wears red undergarment with a blue outer garment (God become Human), thus the doctrine of deification is conveyed. Lord Jesus Christ is almost always presented in red and blue clothes.
HANDS – For the first eight centuries, God the Father was symbolized by a hand. This is based on Exodus 15:6 and Psalm 48:10. 1. The Roman Catholic (Latin) form of the hand will have two fingers extended, which symbolize the twofold (human and divine) nature of his Son, Jesus.
The Eastern Orthodox (Greek) form of the hand will have the first finger fully extended, the second finger curved inward, the third finger and thumb are turned inward to cross over each other and the fourth finger is also curved. The fingers spell out “IC XC”, a widely used four letter abbreviation of the Greek for Jesus (IHCOYC) Christ (XPICTOC). This hand also symbolizes benediction and blessing.
The three fingers of Christ – as well as spelling out “I” and “X” – confess the Tri-unity of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The touching finger and thumb of Jesus not only spell out “C”, but attest to the Incarnation: to the joining of divine and human natures found in the body of Jesus Christ.
- SERAPHIM - Seraphim are described in Isaiah 6:2 and are involved in perpetually showing their love of God. They fly around God’s throne, celebrating and praising Him. The seraphim are said to have six wings; two wings cover their face, two wings cover their feet and two wings are used to fly. When portrayed, they are typically red in color. They are sometimes holding a scroll containing the words of Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
- CHERUBIM - Cherubim are described in Ezekiel 10. They are angels that both know and worship God. Legend tells us they are known for their divine wisdom. When portrayed, cherubim are painted in golden yellow and/or sapphire blue. They have either two or four wings and sometimes are seen as a winged wheel.