SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery will close to the public beginning Friday, October 16, 2020. Learn More

African Art
PrevNext1 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Subject: Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

Christian Processional Cross

late 19th century

Copper alloy

17 1/2 × 14 5/8 × 1 3/8 in. (44.5 × 37.2 × 3.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Valerian Lada-Mocarski
In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which dates back to 333 C.E., crosses have been used since the tenth century. Commemorating the death and resurrection of Christ, the cross is used in ceremonial processions as well as in private worship to ward off evil. The processional cross, the largest of the Ethiopian crosses, is mounted on a long wooden shaft to be held in the hand, and is dressed with colorful cloth streamers. When carried in a procession, the cross is extended to observers to be kissed, as a blessing. Traditionally, patrons of the Church and its monasteries would commission these crosses and bequeath them to the institution, hoping to secure their personal salvation. The earliest crosses were cast from a wax model, but since the nineteenth century most crosses have been cut from a flat sheet of metal and pierced with designs.
Orthodox Tewahedo Church
19th century

Mr. Valerian Lada-Mocarski collected in Ethiopia in 1943
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Valerian Lada-Mocarski to Yale University Art Gallery, 1977


Frederick John Lamp, “African Art at Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2005): 32–35, ill.

Frederick John Lamp, “Hot Space, Cool Space: The Reinstallation of the African Art Collection in the Louis Kahn Building at Yale University,” African Arts 40 (Summer 2007): 38, fig. 4.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.