Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Processional Cross

Date:
12th–13th century
Geography:
Ethiopia, Lasta region
Culture:
Tigrinya peoples
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
H. 12 7/16 x W. 5 7/16 x D. 1 in. (31.6 x 13.8 x 2.5 cm)
Classification:
Metal-Ornaments
Credit Line:
Purchase, Tianaderrah Foundation, Daniel and Marian Malcolm, Noah-Sadie K. Wachtel Foundation Inc. and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Ruddock Gifts, 2008
Accession Number:
2008.502
Not on view
Imbued with symbolic meaning and protective powers, crosses have been used as a sign of Ethiopian Orthodox Christian devotion since at least the fourth century A.D. Individual patrons commissioned crosses such as this example to give to religious institutions as acts of devotion. Here, the central trifoliate cross is amplified by a multiplicity of outwardly projecting pattée crosses that suggest organic luxuriance. The openings are both aesthetic and functional, heightening the object’s intricate silhouette while minimizing its weight. The earliest in the Museum’s collection from the Lasta region, this cross is contemporary with the later rock-hewn churches at Lalibela. Like other crosses and architectural elements typical at that site, this cross exhibits the split palmette motif. The palmette extends from circular joints at its base to form two opposed half-lunettes surrounding a pattée cross at the upper limits and sides of the primary cross. This motif alludes to the cross as the Tree of Life as well as to the divine aureole of Christ borne on the wings of the Four Beasts. The complex configuration relates this cross to a processional cross in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, but here the design is more elegantly attenuated and the execution is crisper and more sharply resolved.
Kristen Windmuller-Luna, 2014
Acquired in Addis Ababa market in 1967 by Heinrich Dieckmann, Germany; on loan to Munich Museum für Völkerkunde, 1987–2007; [Sam Fogg, London, until 2007]

Simovic, Milos. "Art of Christian Ethiopia." Tribal Art vol. XII, no. 47 (Winter 2007–2008), p. 119.



Related Objects

Processional Cross

Date: 14th–15th century Medium: Brass Accession: 1998.37 On view in:Gallery 351

Processional Cross

Date: ca. 1500 Medium: Wood, tin Accession: 1999.103 On view in:Gallery 351

Processional Cross

Date: 13th–14th century Medium: Bronze Accession: 2011.159 On view in:Gallery 351

Processional Cross

Date: 15th century Medium: Copper Accession: 2008.22 On view in:Gallery 351

Healing Scroll

Date: 18th–19th century Medium: Parchment, ink, pigments, cotton Accession: 2012.5 On view in:Gallery 351