The David Draper Dayton Fundexpand_more 2017.1
Ethiopia adopted Christianity more than 1,650 years ago, in 341 ce. By the 1400s Ethiopia’s flourishing Christian art combined Christian iconography with an expressive use of pattern and form—as exemplified by this imposing cross. Crosses are among the best-known items of Christian Ethiopian art; nowhere else are there as many different types of crosses. They are made of wood or metal and for various uses: to fit on the end of a staff for public religious processions, to hold in one’s hand, and to wear on one’s chest, hanging from a necklace. This example is a hand cross, showing a beautiful patina (surface coloration) created by extensive use.
Mia has a strong collection of Christian Ethiopian objects, including brass processional crosses, a silver cross pendant, a late 1600s diptych, and an illuminated album of biblical scenes. This is the first wooden handheld cross to enter the collection. Made by a master carver, its imposing scale, old age, and magnificent shape and design make it a very important addition to the existing holdings.