Silver metal hand cross from Ethiopia, decorated with an elaborate geometric design. This cross was probably alloyed from a mixture of melted silver coins with nickel and other metals for additional hardness. Design elements include birds, crosses and intricate scrollwork-type decoration. Circa mid to late 1800’s. (12 1/8 x 4 1/2 inches).
An excellent antique example of African Christian symbolism.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded by the monks Frumentius and Aedissius in the early fourth century, during the reign of King Ezana of Axum (Aksum), who converted to Christianity along with many of his people. Frumentius was consecrated bishop in Alexandria, returning to Ethiopia to be its first bishop. In fact, the Ethiopian Church exists today as self-governing, though it traditionally shares the same faith with Egypt's Coptic Church.
Hand crosses were regularly used in the daily lives of Ethiopian Priests. For other ancient processional and hand crosses see Walters Art Museum “Ethiopian Art”, 2001, Cat. 1 thru 8 and Yale University Press “African Zion”, 1993, Cat 73 through 79.