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Pendant Cross

Arts of Africa

Ethiopian Crosses
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.
CULTURE Amhara
MEDIUM Silver
  • Place Made: Ethiopia
  • DATES 19th or 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 2 x 1 3/4 in. (5.0 x 4.4 cm)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 79.72.18
    CREDIT LINE Gift of George V. Corinaldi Jr.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Solid silver neck cross with equilateral arms on top of which are a square. Only the ends of the arms extend beyond the square, and at the tip of each arm is a small diamond shape. The surfaces of both sides have been decorated with intricate interlace and loop patterns in relief. At the top of the superior arm is a ring for suspension. Condition: Good. Some dark areas appear on parts on relief.
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