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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Architectural Symbolism, Sacred Geography and the Ethiopian Church
Author:Heldman, Marilyn E.
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Subjects:Ethiopian Church
religious buildings
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Architecture and the Arts
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1580918.pdf
Abstract:The Ethiopian Church considers the consecrated altar to be a symbol of the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant. This paper establishes an outline of the historic development of architectural symbolism and concomitant ideas in the Ethiopian Church, and places beliefs concerning the Ark of the Covenant within its historic context. After an examination of the Ethiopian epic 'Kebra Naga'st', or 'The glory of the kings', which provides a mythopoetic version of how the Ark of the Covenant became identified with the altar of the Ethiopian Church, the author discusses the symbolic association of the 6th-century cathedral at Aksum with the Christian city of Jerusalem. After the gradual collapse of the Aksumite empire, Ethiopia's political centre shifted to L»ast»a. The religious centre of L»ast»a was Roh»a, presently called L»alibal»a. Like Aksum, Roh»a/L»alibal»a also represented replicas of holy churches in Jerusalem. The Trinity chapel in Roh»a/L»alibal»a provides evidence of Old Testament mimesis or appropriation. The Trinity chapel's altar 't»abot' and its symbolic form as throne of God signify that the altar is a copy of the Ark of the Covenant. Notes, ref.