Processional Cross

20521852-2005_065_001_Tpa_ARC.tif

Title

Processional Cross

Keywords

Processional cross

Date

late 18th Century

Context

Eastern Africa, Ethiopia, Gondar
Gondar

Medium/Dimensions

Brass
21 1/4 x 14 1/4 in. (54 x 36.2 cm)

Object Number

2005.065.001

Description

Christianity came to Ethiopia in 325 AD making it Africa's longest Christian tradition. Crosses are carried in processions during annual festivals and church services as symbols of triumph, as instruments of protection, and as objects of devotion. This particular type of cross, cut from flat sheets of metal welded and riveted to a shaft and decorated with incised images, first appeared during the Gondarian period established by emperor Fasilädäs (reigned 1632-67).

Individuals commission crosses and donate them to the church. The donor of this cross is depicted lying prostrate beneath the crucifixion. An inscription, written in Ge'ez (Ethiopian liturgical language), identifies him by name and reads: "How Arkä Mär'awi made supplication".

The imagery incised on both sides of the cross serves protective and devotional functions. One example is the Kwer'atä Reesu, seen in the image on the left hand side. It is an icon that depicts Christ wearing the crown of thorns and performing a gesture of acceptance. This icon represented Ethiopian emperors from the 17th century onwards. It was housed in the imperial palace at Gondar and was carried into battle for protection. To the right of the Kwer'atä Reesu is a symbol of triumph, the Anastasis, where a resurrected Christ blesses Adam and Eve as they emerge from limbo.

The principle image on the reverse side of the cross is Our Lady Mary with her Beloved Son in a pose based on a painted icon in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

Reproductions of this icon entered Ethiopia around 1570 in the form of prints circulated by Jesuit missionaries. The image underwent various transformations in the Ethiopian context, such as the addition of winged seraphims flanking mother and child.

The protective image of Saint George killing the dragon to save a maiden appears below and to the left of the Madonna and child. On the right-hand side is another devotional image -- the Holy Trinity set within a frame featuring the four evangelists. A saint and angel appear on the transverse arms of the cross. These arms are designed to support fabric dressings required for all processional crosses.

Credit Line

Museum purchase

Exhibits/Publications

Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011|
MCCM African Reinstallation, December 9, 2011 - December 1, 2014
MCCM Permanent Collection Gallery, August 6, 2016 - Present
MCCM Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2011.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 110-11.|
Gianfranco Fiaccadori, "An Eighteenth-Century Gold Processional Cross from Ethiopia," in Linguistic, Oriental and Ethiopian Studies in Memory of Paolo Marrassini, ed. Alessandro Bausi, et al. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014), 366, 387, figure 36-37.

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2016.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

Yes

Citation

“Processional Cross,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed April 19, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/6647.

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