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Creator Nationality: African; East African; Ethiopian
Creator Dates/Places: Ethiopia, Lake Tana region
Creator Name-CRT: Ethiopia, Lake Tana region
Title: Page from an Illuminated Gospel
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1433
Creation Date: early 15th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Wood, vellum, pigment
Dimensions: H. 16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm)
In the early fifteenth century, at a monastic center in the Lake Tana region of western Ethiopia, a single artist created this illuminated manuscript of the Four Gospels. Its full-page paintings on vellum depict New Testament scenes from the life of Christ and portraits of the evangelists. The text is in Ge'ez, the classical Ethiopian language. Typical of Ethiopian painting, the imagery is two-dimensional and linear. Heads are seen frontally; bodies are often in profile. The artist abbreviated the facial features and treated the human form as a columnar mass, articulated in bold black and red lines .
The Four Gospels are the essence of Ethiopian Christianity . This manuscript was likely kissed, displayed during processions, and placed on the altar to mark important events on the church calendar, such as feasts or holy days.
In the fourth century A.D., the Ethiopian king Ezana converted to Christianity. Christianity became the official religion of the state whose legacy endured in various forms until the twentieth century. Around the time this manuscript was made, Ethiopia's Christian kingdom expanded its influence. Monastic centers became increasingly important outposts of state power. They were also the chief sites of Christian art production. During the sixteenth century, Islamic incursions devastated the region, and most Christian Ethiopian art that predates the seventeenth century was destroyed. This illuminated gospel is a rare survival.
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 1998.66
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1998
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
AMICA ID: MMA_.1998.66
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved
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