Pendant Icon with Saint Yared and King GebreMeskel and King David with His Harp
ArtistGard Giday (Ethiopian, b. 1976)
MediumPaint on wawa wood
DimensionsClosed : 4 x 3 1/2 x 1/2 in. (10.16 x 8.89 x 1.27 cm)
Open : 4 x 6 1/2 in. (10.16 x 16.51 cm)
Credit LineGift of Neal and Elizabeth Sobania
Not everyone who wants to own an Ethiopian icon wants one with subject matter drawn from the New Testament. Some artists, such as Gard Gidey, recognize this and paint subjects that illustrate other narratives but are still very much Ethiopian. For instance, one panel of this icon depicts Yared, the 6th century saint who is recognized as having brought sacred music to the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church. In keeping with the conventions for this subject, he is shown with his sistrum and prayer staff chanting before King GebreMeskel. Both are so enchanted by the hymn Yared is singing that neither has noticed that the king’s sharp spear has pierced Yared’s foot. The other panel of the icon depicts the story of King David playing his harp, but in this case the harp is a begana, a large, deeply resonant stringed instrument that most Ethiopians would readily recognize.