Painted wood, purchased in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2007. This small Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox icon features the Holy Family and 2 angels painted inside. Joseph holds a tiny cross, instead of a staff. The figures are painted in rich, vibrant colors, while the outside is hand-carved and finished in a traditional dark brown. The door hinged in the traditional manner with string (4” when open and 4 inches tall).
Ethiopian Christian iconography is a unique blend of Egyptian Coptic, Byzantine, Armenian, Nubian, and European sacred art.
In the 4th Century, Christianity was proclaimed the official religion of Ethiopia, making it the oldest Christian country in the world, and it became the first nation in the world to use the image of the cross on its coinage. The Queen of Sheba was Ethiopian, and legend has it that she had a son by King Solomon named Menelik, who was said to have brought the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia.