Triptych Icon with Saint George, Our Mother Mary and Her Beloved Son, and the Holy Trinity
Gabra Sellase Abdi Waldamaryam (Ethiopian, early 1900s-1986)
MediumPaint on cardboard, cotton thread
DimensionsWork : 11 1/2 x 23 3/4 in. (29.21 x 60.33 cm)
Mat : 24 x 36 in. (60.96 x 91.44 cm)
Credit LineGift of Neal and Elizabeth Sobania
LabelThe nature of the Holy Trinity has been debated in Ethiopia many times over the centuries. The 15th century king Zara Yaqob likened the Trinity to three suns whose rays unite to create one divine light. His view was challenged by the monk Estifanos who compared the Trinity to a single sun that has three components: its form, its light and its heat. This triptych—with its images of Saint George, Our Mother Mary and Her Beloved Son, and the Holy Trinity—was painted by a priest-artist who was active in the city of Mekele in Tigray province. Gabra Sellase Abadi Woldemariam attended church school as a youth and learned to paint through an apprenticeship with an established church painter. As an adult, Gabra Sellase created murals, icons and religious manuscript paintings for churches across northern Ethiopia. The paintings in this exhibition belong to a body of work that Gabra Sellase produced mainly for tourists and expatriates working in Ethiopia during the 1960s and early 70s. The images are painted on pieces of cardboard that Gabra Sellase found or otherwise obtained from local businesses and residents.