As a rule, a riza covers up the entire icon, with the exception of several parts, such as faces, hands, and feet. An oklad is more than a decoration and a shield against sunlight and mechanical damage. It symbolizes one's gratitude to Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, or the saint for their help. Each material used for making riza has its symbolic meaning: gold symbolizes God's grace, silver stands for purity of the soul and holiness, whereas gems point at spiritual virtues.
The tradition of making covers has a centuries-long history. In fact, the first oklads appeared in the Ancient Russia as early as in the 11th century. Making oklads – covering icons – is typical of the Orthodox tradition as a whole but has become the most popular with the Slavic people.
Each cover is unique and is made by hand for a specific icon. Precious rizas and icon covers produced in the icon setting workshop of St Elisabeth Convent are made of metals and textiles. The following materials are used to create the beautiful oklads: metals (tin foil, copper, brass); textiles (brocade, velvet, decorative fabrics); semiprecious stones (amber, onyx, carneol, amethyst, garnet, etc.); high-quality beads made in Japan and the Czech Republic; cannetille; Swarovski strasses; lace.
The icons with riza made by the artisans who work in the icon setting workshop of our Convent are exceptional because our icon painters paint the entire icon, not just the visible parts (hands and faces). This is why the oklad can be later removed if need be.
You can order riza icon through our website. We can also make a bespoke oklad for your own icon.
Please refer to the icon casing workshop page for more information on how we make riza icons.