Title

Hand Cross

Creator

Preview

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Geography

Ethiopia, Africa

Culture

Ethiopian

Medium

Brass

Dimensions

15 1/16 ✕ 7 ✕ 3/8 in. (38.2 ✕ 17.8 ✕ 1.0 cm)

25.54 oz. (723.9 g)

Credit Line

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

Accession Number

2020.25

Provenance

Purchased by David P. Harris from Michael and Vivian Arpad (Arpad Antiques) in Washington, DC on January 19, 1977.

Condition

There are small spots of red paint on the cross, on side 1, and areas of green surface corrosion on side 2.

References

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, 91–95, cat. 6. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/

Description

This heavy hand cross consists of a lozenge-shaped cross, a shaft with piercings at both ends, and a rectangular base with a cross-shaped finial at the lower end. The cross was cast in three distinct pieces — cross, shaft, and base — and affixed together; the unpolished surfaces from the casting process are visible along the interior edges.

The cross features, at the center, a cross with arms of equal length. Each arm is triangular, inscribed with an abstract face, and adorned with a knotted finial. These finials are articulated with smaller lobes on the contours. While the outline of the cross is that of a lozenge, the numerous cut-outs allow for light to pass through the negative spaces, and bring greater definition of, and emphasis to, the central cross shape.

The shaft is marked by a cross-hatching pattern, and the base is inscribed with figures on both sides. On side 1, the winged figure is decorated with crosses on its body; dots and straight lines comprise its wings. The concentric circles surrounding the head suggest a halo. The figure on side 2, features two palm branches, rather than the wings featured on the opposite side of the base. Below the base a cross-shaped finial consists of four triangular-shaped arms of equal length, with the left, right, and lower arms each additionally adorned with a three-lobed finial.

The multi-part construction of this cross is similar to others in the collection (2020.26, 2020.27), and is comparable to a hand cross at the Dallas Museum of Art. These objects speak to the artistic processes involved in casting the individual pieces and affixing them together by welding, soldering, or the use of rivets.

Lynn Jones, in Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 91–95. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/

2020.25.pdf (1612 kB)
Purchase Receipt and Supporting Materials

2020.25-side2.jpg (7908 kB)
Side 2

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