Diptych with Twelve Apostles & St. Paul

c. 1700
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Did You Know?

Captions written in the language Gəˁəz identify each holy man by name. This African language is nearly 2,500 years old!


Depicting 13 holy men, this diptych (two-panel painting) is sized for an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church or elite home. It is painted in the bold, colorful style associated with royal court workshops from the early 1600s to the mid-1700s. Painter Wäldä Maryam (or someone he trained) set this scene of Christ’s apostles in the context of his homeland. Each saint wears fashionable clothing imported from India. While they are posed and dressed similarly to emphasize their group identity, the artist portrayed their faces and hairstyles individually. Captions in Ge’ez––an eastern African language dating to the 400s BCE––identify each by name.
Diptych with Twelve Apostles & St. Paul

Diptych with Twelve Apostles & St. Paul

c. 1700

Workshop or Circle of Wäldä Maryam

(Ethiopia, active mid- to late 1600s-early 1700s)
Africa, East Africa, Ethiopia, presumably Gondär

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