Antique Ethiopic Processional Cross, c. late 1800's



12 inches tall x 3 5/8 inches wide, with hollow base to mount on wooden staff

An excellent antique example of African Christian symbolism.

Silver Alloy processional cross from Ethiopia, decorated with an elaborate geometric design. This cross was probably alloyed from a mixture of melted silver coins alloyed with nickel and other metals for additional hardness. Design elements include four birds, a central cross and intricate fretwork-type decoration.

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.

Processional crosses were regularly carried in the rituals of the Ethiopic Church. For other ancient processional and hand crosses see Walters Art MuseumEthiopian Art”, 2001, Cat. 1 thru 8 and Yale University Press “African Zion”, 1993, Cat 73 through 79.


  • Inventory# PA-3515