1st Edition

The Indigenous and the Foreign in Christian Ethiopian Art On Portuguese-Ethiopian Contacts in the 16th–17th Centuries

Edited By Manuel João Ramos, Isabel Boavida Copyright 2004

    In the rural plateaux of northern Ethiopia, one can still find scattered ruins of monumental buildings that are evidently alien to the country's ancient architectural tradition. This little-known and rarely studied architectural heritage is a silent witness to a fascinating if equivocal cultural encounter that took place in the 16th-17th centuries between Catholic Europeans and Orthodox Ethiopians. The Indigenous and the Foreign in Christian Ethiopian Art presents a selection of papers derived from the 5th Conference on the History of Ethiopian Art, which for the first time systematically approached this heritage. The book explores the enduring impact of this encounter on the artistic, religious and political life of Ethiopia, an impact that has not been readily acknowledged, not least because the public conversion of the early 17th-century Emperor Susïnyus to Catholicism resulted in a bloody civil war shrouded in religious intolerance. Bringing together work by key researchers in the field, these studies open up a particularly rich period in the history of Ethiopia and cast new light on the complexities of cultural and religious (mis)encounters between Africa and Europe.

    Contents: Introduction; Architecture And Urbanism: A tale of four cities: late 16th and early 17th Ethiopian capitals and their Turkish, Portuguese, and Indian connections, Richard Pankhurst; Ethiopian and Jesuit monumental stone architecture in the Lake Tana basin: a preliminary assessment, LaVerle Berry; Foreign influences and local contribution in Gondarian architecture, Fasil Giorghis; Portuguese and Indian influences on the architecture of the Lake Tana region: an inquiry into the rôle of Gänätä Iyäsus, Ian Campbell; The monastery of Märtula Maryam: questions and speculations about its architecture and ornamentation, Paul B. Henze. Icon And Mural Paintings: Place, space and representation in 18th-century Gondarine painting, Tania C. Tribe; Ethiopian warrior saints in 18th-century miniature and their significance in the cultural history of Ethiopia, Stanislaw Chojnacki; The use of occidental engravings in Ethiopian painting in the 17th and 18th centuries: from the success of the book Evangelicae Historiae Imagines by Nadal at King Susniyos' court (c. 1610-11) to the murals in the Narga Sillase church (c. 1738-50), Claire Bosc-Tiessé; Analysis of 17th-century Ethiopian pigments, Anaïs Wion; Ahmad Graññ and the Portuguese in Ethiopian folk painting, Girma Fisseha. Decorative Arts: The Portuguese import of luxury textiles to Ethiopia in the 16th and 17th centuries and their subsequent artistic influence, Michael Gervers; Imported textiles in Ethiopian traditions, Martha H. Henze; The cross brought to Goa and Portugal by Libnä Dingil' s envoy Mathew, Isabel Boavida; A military helmet and mail shirt at Däbrä Wärq, Goggam: two historic objects of probable earlier Portuguese provenance, Stephen Bell; Bibliography; Index.


    Manuel João Ramos with Isabel Boavida

    '... helps transform its subject matter from a parochial into an international field.' The Art Newspaper 'The volume includes six excellent maps and plans, fourteen color plates, and more than fifty black-and-white illustrations or photographs, with sources for the illustrations in a separate list. Each paper also includes copious footnotes, which can serve as useful bibliographies for the librarian. A list of contributors provides the institutions with which they are associated. There is a fifteen-page bibliography. None of the above are significantly marred by the occasional typograhical error or blurry illustration of sites which are likely difficult or impossible to photograph. The volume is well bound, sewn in signatures, printed in clear typeface and includes a colorful dust jacket. This work is highly recommended for university libraries, college libraries with strong academic programs in art history, religion, history for African studies, and museum libraries with relevant collections.' Art Documentation 'The book is handsome, the maps and reproductions are excellent.' Journal of African History 'This beautifully produced book... makes fascinating reading and is a must for scholars interested in the history of Ethiopian art and international relations.' African Art 'The well-annotated volume is also satisfyingly illustrated...' Religion and the Arts '... no one should underestimate the achievement of the editors in getting their book together. Besides architecture, it covers icon and mural paintings, and the decorative arts. The team of contributors, which includes Ethiopian scholars, is broadly based. It is a courageous step into a fascinating area.' Ecclesiastical History