What is a Diptych?

I am often asked this question.  A diptych (pronounced dip-tik) can be any two things that are attached for some purpose, especially in art.  The most common type is … The most common type is in the form of two pictures which express a mutual theme, such as husband and wife photo portraits in a hinged frame or two paintings using the same subject with contrasting color schemes.  The diptych can be a continuation from one painting to the other or two different paintings that for any reason go together.  An example is the famous Ivory Diptych: Washing Feet and Hands in the  Milan Cathedral Treasury, Milan, Italy.

Famous Diptych in Milan Cathedral

Ivory Diptych: Washing Feet and Hands

In the top Jesus is washing the Disciples’ feet and in the bottom Pilate is washing his hands of responsibility in the death of Jesus.  You see, both the top and the bottom have the theme of washing, but with very different purposes.

The earliest form of diptych that I have discovered was used by early Christian churches as a membership roll.  It consisted of two framed wax tablets hinged so that they could be folded together and locked.  When opened, one side contained the names of living church members and the other side held the names of members who had passed on.  Wax was used so names could easily be smoothed out on the living side and added to the side of those passed on.

I have written a literary diptych.  The Two Sons Diptych consists of two stories with the combined theme of forgiveness and justice.  As the day is made up of both darkness and light, yet the whole is one day; so is my book, two stories, yet the whole is one book.  It is both a satire and a parable.  If you read it, I believe it will change forever the way you view forgiveness.  Read more…


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