About the Image:
The image you have presented appears to be a handheld cross from Ethiopia, dating from somewhere between the 18th and 20th century. Ethiopian crosses are quite distinctive and are an integral part of both the religious and cultural heritage of Ethiopia. They are known for their intricate lattice or filigree work, which often incorporates geometric patterns, as well as Christian iconography.
This cross looks like it is made from brass, a material commonly used in Ethiopian artifacts. The design elements might include the traditional Ethiopian motifs, such as intricate lattice work and stylized representations of floral and geometric patterns. These designs are not only aesthetic but often carry deep religious symbolism. The form of the cross, with its flared arms, is characteristic of Ethiopian ecclesiastical design.
The central figure on the cross is a representation of Jesus Christ. The simplicity and abstract style of the figure is typical of Ethiopian iconography, which often eschews the realistic detail found in Western religious art for a more symbolic and stylized depiction that focuses on the spiritual rather than the physical.
In Ethiopian Christian practice, these crosses are not only objects of veneration but are also used in liturgical contexts. Priests and deacons may hold crosses during services, and they are often used to bless congregants by touching the cross to the heads or hands of worshippers.
The fact that this cross is handheld suggests it was used for personal devotion or in liturgical processions. Its size and the presence of a handle also imply it was meant to be carried, perhaps in religious ceremonies or as a tool for blessing by a religious leader.
Ethiopian crosses like this one reflect a blend of the country's ancient traditions and its Christian faith, which dates back to the early 4th century, making it one of the world's oldest Christian nations. The design of Ethiopian crosses varies widely across the different regions and historical periods, representing a rich tradition of religious artistry that is unique to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.