Current Exhibitions

May 16, 2024—January 2, 2025

Skin, Script, Spirit: Ethiopia will be the first research installation at The Icon Museum and Study Center, highlighting three intriguing objects that are recent gifts and acquisitions.

The lands of Ethiopia have an ancient and storied history that can be traced back as far as 3000 BCE. Christianity found an early home in Ethiopia, officially adopted under King Ezana in the second half of the 4th century, making it one of the world’s oldest Christian cultures. This rich heritage is reflected in the fascinating and unique icons and liturgical objects produced in the region.

The large goatskin, the centerpiece of this installation, may have been painted for a church or home. Its original function remains unclear. Hung by a rod through the top seam, the skin later received a leather loop and a bottom strip, allowing it to be rolled up and secured.

The prayerbook on parchment is written in Ge’ez, the liturgical language of Ethiopia. Parchment manuscripts continued to be produced in Ethiopia through modern times.

The double-sided pendant diptych, depicting the Ethiopian emperor Basil (Fasilides), offers a window into the veneration of leaders and saints in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

We invite you to join us in researching our Ethiopian collection. Share your thoughts and insights by clicking below to enter the discussion board.

The Icon Museum and Study Center is grateful to Meseret Oldjira, who shared her knowledge of these objects.