"Ikonopisnyy podlinnik", first of all, are technical-applied literature: in sensible icon-painting originals, descriptions of the appearance of saints are the main integral part. These descriptions are compiled according to special rules, observing the sequence of listing various physiognomic features, figure proportions and other iconographic attributes. First of all, the age of the saint is indicated (young, middle-aged, old). Next, the hair color is described (blonde, dark blonde, slightly gray-haired, black-gray), after a general description of the facial expression (image is beautiful, the face is clean, the eyes are tender) and the shape of the hairstyle and beard (the hair is short, curly, rounded).We note in particular that much attention is paid to the descriptions of the beard in the podlinnik , which is apparently associated with traditional ideas about this part of the male vegetation as a measure of dignity and honor. Also, in order to save writing material and for the convenience of using the reference book, the authors of the podlinnik resorted to brief comparative characteristics based on the principle of similarity of one (little-known) saint with another (more popular). At the same time, either the appearance of the prototype as a whole, or its specific most expressive (for a male face) detail, namely the beard was noted. Therefore, from time to time you can meet formulas like "like St. Nikolas beard" (that is, like Nicholas the Wonderworker).
After the characteristics of the figure and face, a description of the clothes is placed, indicating the colors (patriarchs (i. e. forefathers) robes, he top is crimson, the underside is azure, girded with a fly from the right shoulder under the left hand); further, iconographic attributes are defined that indicate the nature of the feat and the status of the depicted persons (the archangels have wings, a mirror sphere; the apostles have the gospel; the martyrs hands a cross; the monks in mantles, hoods and paramans can hold a scroll in their hands; saints bishops - in the episcopal hat, phelonion or sakkos, with an omophorion and epitrachelion; patriarchs (i. e. forefathers) and prophets - holding unfolded scrolls; warriors - in armor, with a sword, spear or shield, etc.). In the illuminated "litsevoy podlinnik», unlike "tolkovyy podlinnik", the main content is graphic images of saints with brief comments. However, this division is conditional, because since the XVIIth century combined versions of podlinnik have also been known. They including both interpretive articles and drawings of iconographic schemes.
Naturally, the above dry verbal portraits do not contain narrative lines, theological theses, and many other characteristics that make up the dignity of ancient literary monuments. However, podlinnik were most often collections in which the central "core", consisting of miniatures with drawings or verbal descriptions, was overgrown with additional articles of various contents. These additional articles constitute the true literary merit of the Ikonopisnyy podlinnik: introductory articles of theological and didactic content; excerpts of a hagiographic nature; interpretive articles on complex iconographic compositions. In this way, the original acquired the virtues of a codices of a compiling nature, covering various literary forms: apologetics, hagiography, and theological exegesis.