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This book deals with the little known aspects of ancient and modern Ethiopian art and architecture, which are approached here from a variety of points of view, some traditional and some decidedly innovative.
The work opens with an iconographic study by the world’s leading authority on Ethiopian painting, Stanislaw Chojnacki. He discusses the resurrection of Christ as portrayed by painters on icons and church walls throughout the great period of Ethiopian Christian art from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth century.
Other studies in this book consider the indigenous technique of icon painting, Ethiopian script as art history, and some remarkable card-woven silk hangings. Several renowned but remote churches and their treasures are also described, and one traveler reveals the astonishing story of his stumbling on a new rock church in process of its construction, thus demonstrating that the tradition of excavating churches in rock is still very much alive today.
Three architectural riddles are tackled here, namely, for whom was the medieval Guzara castle constructed, who build the so-called "Portuguese" Bridge near Dabra Libanos Monastery, and what was the symbolism of the arches erected in many Ethiopian towns during the Derg revolutionary period. Two contributors examine political posters by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and other contributors consider, among other themes, contemporary artists painting in a modern style. The book ends with two essays that challenge the traditional distinction between "art" and "craft," and they propose new approaches to the longstanding debate.
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Rita J. Pankhurst, for many years the librarian of the University Library in Addis Ababa, is a longtime student of Ethiopian art and culture and has written widely on these subjects.
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