Vintage Ethiopian Coptic Cross with Stylized Birds (E312YBL)


This vintage Ethiopian cross is typical of the intricate and lyrical designs of Coptic Crosses. Older Coptic Crosses often included a circle as this cross with a circular shape with a pierced design on top and a circle on the bottom which surrounds a Coptic-shaped cross. The four birds on the outer edge are believed to symbolically transform the Cross the Tree of Knowledge and Life.





No other region has produced the quantity, quality, and diversity as the Christian-cross from the Ethiopian-Highlands in Africa, an area renowned for having accepted Christianity early in its history and its fine African-art and metalwork. This Coptic-Cross pendant features stylized birds which symbolically transforms the cross into a tree that represents the True Cross, the beginning and end of time, and the unique lineage of the Ethiopian people to the biblical Queen of Sheba. Trees appear at the time of humanity’s return to paradise and represent the Tree-of-Life. Ethiopian-Crosses are a means of connecting the human and divine spheres, but also include a circle that symbolically provides apotropaic powers to protection against bad luck and evil spirits, heal the body and spirit and are prized as decorative ornaments. The etched circular section at the top spiritually represents eternity and Christ’s halo, his infinite love and resurrection. The bottom section is a tri-partite design, a popularly used motif to depict the Trinity which a central theme in the Ethiopian Orthodox church that reflects the relationship between God and humanity.The lattice work in the center of interlocking threads in a never-ending-knot. This is a visual presentation of everlasting life, the eternal presence of God, and Christ’s unceasing actions for human salvation. The elaborate patterns decorate both sides of the cross. Made using the lost-wax technique from coin-silver with an attached suspension-loop allowing a chain or cord to be threaded through it, this African-metalwork cross with fine patina is a one-of-a-kind piece of African-jewelry. It is part of the VA Spiritual-and-Inspirational Collection of Christian-Art and Religious-Jewelry.

For information and bibliographic citations click here for the blog The Evolution and Brilliance of Ethiopian Crosses


Abbink, G. J., “The cross in Ethiopian Christianity: ecclesial symbolism and religious experience,” in E. K. Bongmba (Ed.), Routledge Companion to Christianity in Africa, London, Routledge, 2016.

Catherine Beyer, “What Is a Coptic Cross?” Learn Religions, May 8, 2019,




Additional information

Place of Origin

Africa, Horn of Africa


Antique/Vintage (1910-1980)



Materials and Technique

Coin silver/alloy

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 2.375” Width: 1. 625”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 6.03 cm Width: 4.13 cm


.6 oz

Weight Metric

17.01 gr


Very good, patina and wear consistent with age and use

Reference Number

E312 YBL

Shipping Box Size