"Waved like the sea, and dyed like the dove’s neck..."
The church of Santi Maria e Donato, on the island of Murano, is justly famous for its medieval mosaics, which cover not only the vault of the apse but the entire floor.
Unfortunately, it is difficult, these days, to see all of the floor mosaics, on account of the wooden seats. When the floor was originally laid, in the first half of the 12th century, it wouldn't have been obscured by benches; the practise of sitting during services wasn't introduced until much later.The mosaics are not decorative; they tell a story. But the story, that of the salvation of mankind through Christ, is told in symbols, which have to be decoded. Peacocks, for instance, symbolise immortality, and the cup, from which they are drinking, contains the water of life.
The makers of the mosaics employed two techniques: opus tessellatum for the figurative shapes and opus sectile for the geometric forms.
The mosaics were restored in the 1970s when the entire floor was relaid.