Seeing Faith: Ethiopian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Art during the Jesuit Interlude (1557-1632)

Conference Paper Summary

Virgin Mary and Christ child after the Virgin of Santa Maria Maggiore model, painted on the mäqdäs (sanctuary) of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Däbrä Sina Gorgora, c. 1620s. Photograph, Kristen Windmuller-Luna, 2013.

Jesuit art was born of the visual milieu of the Counter-Reformation, during which the Council of Trent encouraged the use of art as a teaching tool. In the Jesuit Ethiopian Mission (1557-1632), where the targets of conversion had been Orthodox Christians since the fourth century, art guided instruction and served as a visual common ground in an otherwise bitter religious dispute. This paper considers the relationship between Ethiopian Orthodox and Roman Catholic art during this mission, using case studies of imported Marian and Christological imagery to demonstrate the era’s two-way cultural exchange. Continue reading Seeing Faith: Ethiopian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Art during the Jesuit Interlude (1557-1632)

Lecture Summary, Leeds IMC, 2017

I introduced eight years of research in central Shoa in a twenty minutes lecture (Comparing Fra Mauro’s Depiction of Medieval Ethiopia to Sites Discovered via Satellite Archaeology in Modern Shoa, Ethiopia – see here for the programme: https://africana.hypotheses.org/27).

Over forty sites found via satellite views and visits have been named and put in context thanks mostly to a Venetian map designed for the zone we study, as well as for vast parts of Africa, by visiting Ethiopian monks from the Zuqwala and Barara areas, in 1439. Continue reading Lecture Summary, Leeds IMC, 2017

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography I: Introduction

The Nine Saints. Painting in the Abba Pentalewon Monastery near Aksum. Image taken by Ondřej Žváček; via WikiCommons; licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

Ethiopian Christians have long venerated a group of monks from various cities in the Roman empire who allegedly arrived in Aksum in northeastern Ethiopia during the early- to mid-6th century CE. They are credited with establishing the first monasteries in Ethiopia and converting much of the country to Christianity. While the stories of individual saints might vary in some details, on the whole they tend to follow a predictable narrative structure, based closely on a highly popular Arabic translation of the 5th century Syriac hagiography of Saint Alexius of Rome, and other late antique texts translated from Greek and Coptic into Arabic, and then again into Ge’ez, or Classical Ethiopic. Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography I: Introduction

Gospel Illuminations. Ethiopian Paintings and their European Models

Contacts and comparisons: Idiosyncrasies in the illuminated tetraevangelium of Märtula Maryam.*

Summary
The Märtula Maryam Gospel Book, a manuscript book c. 1650, presents a blending of foreign ideas as seen in the Evangelium arabicum with Ethiopian usage and intermittent non-adherence to theologically approved traditional solutions. The language of European visual explanations was transformed and translated into Ethiopian indigenous solutions. This process should not be seen

Continue reading Gospel Illuminations. Ethiopian Paintings and their European Models