Christopher Spring, British Museum
The modern state of Ethiopia was created from an ancient kingdom founded over two millennia ago. Originally extending across the Red Sea into what is now Yemen, the Aksumite Empire of Ethiopia became Christian in the fourth century. It is associated with the biblical mythologies of Solomon and of Sheba, and in the medieval west with the Christian Patriarch Prester John. Ethiopia is mentioned several times in the Bible, and its church is one of the oldest in the world. Although Ethiopia, then as now, is a country of many faiths and cultures, including Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Ethiopian Christian churches thrive among diaspora communities, with many congregations based in London. This remarkable painting tells multiple stories, with layered meanings, about Christianity and empire.
It was created in the mid-nineteenth century for the Church of the Saviour of the World at Adwa in northern Ethiopia. Its…
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