Hand Cross



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Ethiopia, Africa




Metal alloy


12 1/4 ✕ 4 3/85/8 in. (31.1 ✕ 11.1 ✕ 1.6 cm)

8.42 oz. (238.7 g)

Credit Line

Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020

Accession Number



Purchased by David P. Harris from Bruce and Marcia McDougal (New Davenport Cash Store Pottery Gallery & Restaurant) in Davenport, California on June 23, 1989.


On both sides, the head is darker around the perimeter, and appears to have been polished at the center.


Brad Hostetler, and Lynn Jones, eds., Ethiopian Objects in the Blick-Harris Study Collection: Art, Context, and the Persistence of Form, Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): pp. 5–25, 67–75, 104–07, cat. 10. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/


The metal cross was constructed in three pieces that were soldered or welded together: the cross, shaft, and base. The cross, which consists of a complex knot pattern surmounting a panel incised with angel-like figures, is affixed to the upper end of the handle by two prongs. The lower square base is likewise affixed to the handle by two prongs. This square panel is adorned with two open triangles on the lateral edges and a three-lobed, open-work knot attached to the lower end.

There are minor differences in decoration of the two sides. On side 1, a cross emerges from the central knot-work through the hatching of specific “threads.” These hatched threads are concentrated at the center, and extend outward to form a general cross shape. This hatching is absent on side 2.

The figures on the panel below the lozenge are each composed of the same outline — a central figure flanked by two slightly detached wings — but differ in details. On side 1, the figure appears to wear a feathered or fur mantle. Its hands emerge at waist level, and grasp, a sword in its right and a spear in its left hands. The figure’s wings are spread outward, filling the square shape of the panel. On side 2, the figure wears a striated mantle with a cross at the chest. Unlike the figure on side 1, this is without hands, sword or spear.

The surface decoration of the base of the handle also differs on the two sides. Side 1 features a small head, flanked by and what appears to be two wings. Side 2 is inscribed with a cruciform design, consisting of two perpendicular lines with small circles at each end.

The complex knotwork found on this cross is a design found on other crosses in the collection (2020.25, 2020.29, 2020.33, 2020.42, 2020.199). These examples demonstrate the many ways in which knots were used to not only adorn, but also create, the form of the cross.

Lynn Jones, in Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 104.

2020.26.pdf (1475 kB)
Purchase Receipt and Supporting Materials

2020.26-side2.jpg (6751 kB)
Side 2


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