African Zion - Heldman, Marilyn; Grierson, Roderick; Munro-Hay, Stuart C. - Yale University Press
Social Science
Art and Architecture

African Zion

The Sacred Art of Ethiopia

  • Marilyn Heldman; Edited by Roderick Grierson; With contributions by Stuart C. Munro-Hay
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Out of Print.

The art of highland Christian Ethiopia—with its visually powerful icon paintings on wood, intricate metal processional crosses, gold coins, and richly illuminated manuscripts—is largely unknown in the West. This handsome book, which presents a survey of this art from the fourth to the eighteenth centuries, is the first comprehensive introduction to Ethiopian Christian art and the first to address the function of art within Ethiopian society. It adds a fascinating new chapter to the history of African arts and cultures.

Written by leading scholars in Ethiopian and Byzantine art, the book addresses a wide range of topics that include the nature of the ancient, Byzantine, and medieval Western legacy in Ethiopian culture; the character of the medieval African society in which this art was produced; the political, social, and economic history of Ethiopia; Ethiopian literature and spirituality; the development of Ethiopian art and its relationship to Byzantine, Coptic, and Nubian art; and the significance of style, iconography, and patronage in Ethiopian art. These interpretive essays are illustrated with archival photographs, contemporary color photographs of ecclesiastical ritual and architecture, and maps. The remainder of the book contains reproductions of a rich and representative selection of Ethiopian art objects and full commentary for each work.

Marilyn Heldman is an independent scholar who also teaches at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.