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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Gallery 351

The MET : Gallery 351 : Ethiopia

Art From Us, Museum Guide #581

Art From Us presents a must-see Museum Guide daily, where we showcase specific artworks in specific museums – from across the globe. Today, for Art From Us, Museum Guide #581 the spotlight is on the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET) NY’s Gallery 351. Showcasing a collection of art from Ethiopia.

The three works in focus are :

  1. Processional Cross, from 15th century.
  2. Prayer Book: Arganona Maryam (the organ of Mary), from the late 17th century.
  3. Double Diptych Icon Pendant, from the early 18th century.

The significance of the 3 works chosen for Art From Us, Museum Guide #581

Welcome to the Art From Us, Museum Guide #581.

According to the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art :

“This gallery presents an array of forms of expression that developed following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by the emperor of Aksum, Ezana, in the fourth century.”

In view of this description, today we propose to go back in time and discover a little bit about King Ezana.

The Reign of Ezana

The reign of King Ezana lasted from c. 303–c. 350. This period in Ethiopian history is particularly well documented as compared to any other preceding the 12th century. This is due to the records created by the Emperor. Ezana assumed the throne as a young boy. His first point of contact with Christianity was through one of his father’s counsellors – a man called Frumentius, who christened Ezana and eventually went on to become head of the Ethiopian church. Historians have noted that it was through Frumentius’ aid that the Aksum empire built political relations with the Mediterranean Christian states.

Among other things, Ezana is known for his inscriptions through which he documented many facets of his reign. His first inscription was written in on stone in three languages. There are also documents of his military expiditions, his conquest of the ancient city of Meroë, as well as his tributes to Christian divinity.

We urge you to explore Gallery 351 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to further discover the evolution of Christianity in Ethiopia through these relics.

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