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Coptic Pendant Crosses

Penn Museum - Joy of Museums - Coptic Pendant Crosses

“Coptic Pendant Crosses” have been worn by Ethiopians, like other Christians, as a visual symbol of their faith over 1,600 years. The Coptic Cross shows Greek or Latin influence, while more elaborate designs hold symbolic messages. The crosses above are of  various designs, some are ornamental works formed into delicate tracery, some are decoratively notched and some are of a simple cross-shape with incising.

The term “Coptic Cross” refers to a number of Christian cross variants associated with Coptic Christians. Old Coptic crosses often incorporate a circle, sometimes the arms of the cross extend through the circle dividing it into four quadrants. The circle cross was also used by the early Gnostic sects.

“Coptic Cross” are an important form of Ethiopian art with elaborate and complex openwork decoration. The cross motif emerges from the decoration, with the whole design often forming a rotated square or circular shape, though the designs are highly creative and varied. They usually have no figure of Christ and the design can incorporate numerous smaller crosses.

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 Coptic Pendant Crosses
  • Culture:            Coptic
  • Date:                 20th Century
  • Provenience:   Ethiopia
  • Materials:        Silver
  • Museum:         Penn Museum


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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons