Vintage Ethiopian Coptic Cross with Stylized Birds (E312YBL)



This vintage Ethiopian cross is typical of the intricate and lyrical designs of a Coptic Cross. Older Coptic Crosses often include circles as here there is a circular shape with a pierced design on top as well as a circular image below it  surrounding a Coptic-shaped cross. The four birds on the outer edge symbolically transform the Cross into the Tree of Knowledge and Life.





No other region has produced the quantity, quality and diversity as the Christian-cross images made in the Ethiopian Highlands in Africa, an area renowned for having accepted Christianity early in its history as well as for its fine African art and metalwork. This Coptic cross features stylized birds that transform the simple cross into a tree representing the True Cross, the beginning and end of time and the unique lineage of the Ethiopian people to the biblical Queen of Sheba. These trees appear at the time of humanity’s return to paradise and represent the Tree of Life. Ethiopian crosses connect the human and divine spheres and often include circles that symbolically provide apotropaic powers of protection against bad luck and evil spirits, heal the body and spirit and are also prized as decorative ornaments. The etched circular section at the top of this Christian-cross spiritually represents eternity and Christ’s halo, his infinite love and his resurrection. The bottom section is a tri-partite design, a popularly used motif to depict the Trinity, a central theme in the Ethiopian Orthodox church reflecting the relationship between God and humanity. The lattice work of interlocking threads in the center is a never-ending-knot and a visual symbol of everlasting life, the eternal presence of God and Christ’s unceasing actions for human salvation. Elaborate patterns are seen on 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 go through it, this African pendant with fine patina is a one-of-a-kind piece

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


Additional information


Antique/Vintage (1910-1980)



Materials and Technique

Coin silver

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

Item Number

E312 YBL

Shipping Box Size