Vintage Ethiopian Axum Coptic Cross (E311YBL)



This vintage Ethiopian cross pendant was crafted hand in Axum, known for its crosses with religious geometric shapes and symbols and apotropaic symbols to provide protection to the wearer. The center with cutouts and etched linear decorations simulates an endless knot to entangle malevolent spirits and the small incised circles on the arms are “protective eyes” that are believed to be able to bring blessings, deflect misfortune and avert the “evil eye.”  The chain necklace is not included.



This vintage Ethiopian Cross from the Northern Ethiopian Highlands in Africa is a variant of a Coptic cross referred to as an Axum Cross where it was crafted. As the most popular form of cross, they are embellished with religious and apotropaic symbols. The top triangle with pierced cutouts represents the Trinity. Each of the arms ending in rounded extensions with etched circles may symbolize the Arc of the Covenant housed in Axum. The center matrix of etched interlocking threads simulates woven material. The interplay of shadow and light and the juxtaposition of  “positive and negative space” highlights the duality of all life: materiality and immateriality, body’s well-being and the soul’s nourishment, spiritual and physical salvation and the union of humanity and divinity in Christ. Repeating similar patterns in different sizes symbolizes the relationship between God and humanity and the Church’s flow and order and everlasting life. Its apotropaic symbols include the incised circles at the ends of the arms avert the “evil eye” and entice beneficial forces and the endless knot is believed to entrap malevolent spirits for eternity. 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 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

Place of Origin



Antique/Vintage (1910-1980)



Materials and Technique

Coin silver

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 3” Width: 2.6”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 7.62 cm Width: 5.24 cm


.3 oz

Weight Metric

8.58 gr


Very good, patina and wear consistent with age and use

Item Number

E311 YBL