The symbolic language of Ethiopian crosses: Explorations through form and ritual

Ethiopia is unique in the world for the incomparable prominence of the cross in the life of its Orthodox Christian population. Crosses of unparalleled intricacy and sophistication are extensively used in religious and magic rituals, as well as in the daily social interactions and personal experiences of people in diverse contexts. A close contextual analysis of select visual material suggests that Ethiopian crosses can be read as visual discourse on a broad range of ideas: from religious beliefs about protection and salvation to interrelated socio-political values regarding order and power, and from individual and collective notions of identity to cultural notions of local and universal history. Thus, the cross emerges as the sacred matrix that encompasses the life of the world in both its microcosmic and macrocosmic dimensions; and as the social and cultural nexus through which and with which people interact in order to shape and express personal and communal identities and hopes. 

The Author's Voice lecture series is hosted by: Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS).

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Event took place June 23, 2022 at 12 noon. This is the link to the event’s calendar:



Maria Evangelatou


Professor of Mediterranean Studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department, at the University of California Santa Cruz.