Oklad. noun.

An oklad – or riza, which is Russian for “robe” – is a metal cover protecting an icon. In English it is sometimes referred to as a “reventment” and a Greek equivalent translates to “coating.” Either way, an oklad is usually made of gilt or silvered metal with repousse work, and is pierced to expose elements of the underlying paint. Sometimes it is enameled (or filigreed, another great word to remember), or set with artificial, semi-precious or even precious stones and pearls.


The pair of late 19th century Russian icons pictured here both have a silver oklad and were offered as separate lots in Crescent City Auction Gallery's April 16-17 estates auction in New Orleans, Louisiana, where both had estimates of $2 000-$4 000. One is of the Virgin of Kazan (Moscow), the other of Christ the Pantocrator. Russian icons are a staple at many Crescent City sales. Their religious themes and artistic charm seem to fit in nicely with a merchandise mix that appeals to New Orleans bidders. The icons typically sell for a few thousand dollars each.