Hand Cross



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Ethiopia, Africa




Wood, possibly olive, acacia, or ebony


11 1/4 ✕ 4 11/167/16 in. (28.5 ✕ 11.8 ✕ 1.1 cm)

2.33 oz. (66.2 g)

Credit Line

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

Accession Number



Purchased by David P. Harris from Maria Teresa O’Leary (Nuevo Mundo) in Alexandria, Virginia on December 13, 1975.


Darkening of the wood, especially on the handle.


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, 76–78, cat. 1. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/


This wooden hand cross consists of a circumscribed lozenge, above two lateral projections, and a shaft that ends with a rectangular lower base and diamond-shaped finial. The wood is tan in color and is lightweight, with discoloration on the shaft.

The two sides of the cross are similar in design. A twisted line motif begins on the cross and repeats on the shaft. The cross encloses a cruciform design made of curved and looping lines. The negative space around the cross allows light to pass through. A small cross is inscribed on the lower finial.

The two sides differ in small details. On side 1, the lateral projections below the cross are inscribed with a four-leaf motif, while on side 2 this motif is missing. The twisted-line motif of the shaft continues to the base of side 1, looping at the corners to create leaf-like shapes, framing a central cross. On side 2, the base features a grid-like pattern of squares, some of which contain a four-leafed cruciform motif.

The pierced, lozenge-shaped cross is comparable to that of other hand and processional crosses in the collection. In each case, the piercings allow for the central cross to become illuminated by the negative space that defines it.

Madison Gilmore-Duffey, in Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 76. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/

2020.29.pdf (594 kB)
Purchase Receipt and Supporting Materials

2020.29-side2.jpg (7005 kB)
Side 2


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