I have the icons of the Crucifixion and of Saint Athanasius, and am considering getting the ones of Saint Michael and the Nativity - that's why I am interested in them. Someone mentioned that they were not traditional icons - they are what I think are called neo-Coptic (not positive on the name?). The icons are by Isaac Fanous.
On either side of Jesus, we see the mourning 'entourage', below which is a skull. I think this could either refer to the name of the place where he was crucified (Golgatha, which means place of the skull), or the realm of death in which he is about to enter. To the right is the Centurion confessing that he was "Truly the Son of God". It appears the three Romans to the left are "casting lots" to divide his garments (note the die in the middle of them). The two Romans on horseback in the background are giving him vinegar on a cloth and stabbing him with the spear, while on either side are the two thieves. The Roman legions in the back may signify Roman power as weak compared to the power of God, but I am not entirely sure on that part.
Unfortunately, the image doesn't show all the detail. Where it is very dark in the corners, there are on either side a disk (maybe sun and moon?) and on the left side there is a cloud-like image with several zig-zag lines coming out of it. There also appears like a mountain of some sort in the left side and some clouds on the right side.
The skull and the soldiers casting lots are a couple of the few parts of this icon I was confident in my understanding of the icon. Do the Coptics have the tradition of giving the name Longinus to the soldier who pierced Christ's side?
I was really interested in what INPI meant.
As someone pointed out, he is standing on Arius, whose heretical teachings he defeated. From what I know of Athanasius, he is most likely holding the list of books in the New Testament, a list that he compiled during his life. The bishops in the back represent the Council of Nicaea.
As for the Coptic text:
The top line of the icon of St Athanasius reads: "Athanasios pi-apostolikos", translated, "Athanasius the Apostolic." As for the bottom of line, I cannot quite make out the lettering of the first word, but apart from that it reads: "Pi--- etavtho-ooti khen Nikea", which translates, "The --- who gathered at Nicea." In the Archangel Michael icon the text reads: "Mikhail pi-arshiangelos", which simply translates as, "Michael the Archangel."
Yeah, I figured that the men in the background were the 318 Fathers of the Council of Nicea. And that the man underfoot was a defeated heretic (Arius or just in general). And I guessed that the top words were "Athanasius the Apostolic". There is a star type symbol at the end of Apostolic that I don't know what it symbolizes.
The bottom text is: apioc - I guessed it meant heretic (or looking at it is might be Arius?).
The middle text that you can't read has a line over it and looks like JIH.
The scroll has a line from the Creed in three languages - Coptic?, Arabic (it's an Arabic script), and English (so I know for sure what it says). It has a Coptic Cross at the top, with the line in Coptic, then a fish symbol, then the Arabic, then the English - Begotten not made, of one essence with the Father - and then a symbol of a grape vine.
Michael holds in his hand The Sphere of Darkness (Gabriel holds the Sphere of Light). I have tried to research the meaning of this, but have found very little. My own extrapolation is that it shows his (and thus, God's) containment and power over Satan. Once again, as was already pointed out, he is standing over a defeated devil.
Huh??? Sphere of Darkness??? That's a new one to me.
Quite straightforward; angels trumpet the arrival of the Messiah while the Father shines a chosen light upon Mary and Jesus (the triangular halo is a symbol for the Father, while the cross halo is for Christ), breaking the dark cloud that has hung over the land for so long (i.e. death). The Three Kings offer praise to Christ, along with Joseph and the animals. One thing I am clueless about, however, are the two men standing in the background on the hill.
Pretty much straight forward.
Thanks for the help.