Ethiopia: Art and Religion

The teacher

I have always wanted to go to Ethiopia and when I learnt that I would be spending several hours— almost 16 hours in Addis Ababa while on transit to Djibouti, I was enthrall.

From my history lessons and watching numerous documentaries, I had learnt of their rich times gone by of the late Emperor Menelik I, the magnificent treasures of Axum, Lalibela, Debre Damo and others that they have also made impressive attempts to sustain.

This rich history is closely tied to religion and beautifully in their daily chores through art who have made impressions in various places— private and public that acts as a constant reminder of where they are coming from and what has been bequeathed to them.

At the Imperial hotel where I was booked while I waited for my flight, I saw striking etchings of the heroes and religious teachers, who have immensely contributed to their way of life.

Reading the good book

It is believed that Ethiopia— invariably known as the “land of a thousand smiles” is the home of the Ark of the Covenant and custodian of some the world’s oldest civilizations. The saints and religious teachers who kept this memory alive are celebrated and venerated. Their deeds, devotions, achievements and impression are kept alive through art— paintings, sculptures, wall etchings and many other forms.

They are deep and subject to many interpretations— the preacher surrounded by angels, caring princes, significance of the legendary Ark of the Covenant and the written law. The images kind of remind you of those biblical figures that have shapes history. It is these images that I would like to share with art connoisseurs and hope that you find them as satisfactory as I did. My longing to visit Ethiopia was not in vain. In fact what I saw motivated me to try and go back there again.

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