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The Ethiopian Aesthetic

Even as a fairly interested traveller and reader – and with a degree in Afrcan history – I had very little sense of the Ethiopian Aesthetic – even though its at a least as distinctive, if not as myriad and sympathetic of renaissance ecclesiastic art:

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Mostly – well traditionally pretty much entirely – its biblical and liturgical scenes: bible study for the illiterate…

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Not all are as beautifully done as Debre Berhan Church, but this is the general idea…

good old final dinner

The good old Final Dinner. Look for the one-eyed Judas.  Symbols of eveil (and just about anything is consistent across monasteries, churches  hundreds of miles  (and hundreds of years) apart…

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more one-eyed baddies drowning post the parting of the red sea…

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about 40% of the wallspace in any given church was not biblical as i understood it – scenes of saints and their deeds, and from the Ethiopian Orthodox bible with its extra books. This is St George (sans the dragon in this pic).

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for eg Saint Kiddus who tamed Lions and Leopards…

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across various media too…

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Early Lake Tana monastery graffiti

adwa

The same style – and elements, see St George in the rainbow – pervade later non-ecclesiastical scenes. This is the Battle of Adwa where the Ethiopian army under Menelik II defeated the Italians in 1896…

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