Arts of Africa
On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
Christianity most likely arrived in Ethiopia in the first century. The conversion of King Ezana in 330 c.e. led to its official acceptance and the minting of coins bearing one of the earliest uses of the cross as a Christian symbol. Although the silver pendant crosses in the Museum’s collection are from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, their forms have a considerably longer history, as the much older copper, wood, and iron crosses here demonstrate.
Hand crosses, which are used by priests, are either hand-held or suspended from a cord around the neck. They are kissed by the faithful to receive a blessing. Processional crosses are carried on long poles in religious processions. Prayer staffs are used to mark rhythms during sacred dances and as supports to lean on while standing for long hours during Orthodox church services. Together, all of these crosses are emblems of the Ethiopian Orthodox church’s ongoing authority.
13th or 14th century
10 x 4 3/4 x 1 in. (25.4 x 12.1 x 2.5 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Eric Goode
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Amhara. Processional Cross, 13th or 14th century. Copper alloy, 10 x 4 3/4 x 1 in. (25.4 x 12.1 x 2.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Eric Goode, 2000.95.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2000.95.1_SL1.jpg)
overall, 2000.95.1_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Cast bronze processional cross with rectangular openwork superstructure and socket with decagonal cross section. The superstructure has a central motif of five small cutout Greek crosses arranged in a larger Greek cross design. Two sets of three crosses form the vertical edges of the composition.
Condition: Good overall
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