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Title: Building Faith: Ethiopian Art and Architecture During the Jesuit Interlude, 1557-1632
Authors: Windmuller-Luna, Kristen Daisy
Advisors: Okeke-Agulu, Chika
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox
religious art and architecture
Roman Catholic
style and influence
Subjects: Art history
African studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the relationship between the art and architecture of Roman Catholicism and Ethiopian Orthodoxy during the Jesuit Ethiopian mission (1557-1632), and that of its royal Ethiopian sponsors. Challenging assumptions about unidirectional Afro-European cultural exchanges, it considers the effects of an African culture on Europeans in the early modern period, and how Africans chose, reused, or adapted elements of European culture. With reference to its schematic reconstructions of key sites, this dissertation considers the nature and symbolic significance of layout, style, and ornament of secular and religious constructions. Its chronological analysis demonstrates that stone construction began in the 1570s, exclusively using the Ethiopian vernacular until the 1614 introduction of a hybrid Ethio-European style (modo etiope). It shows that the foreign prototypes adapted for churches and palaces were not Baroque or “Jesuit style,” but combined elements drawn from classicizing architectural treatises, the Portuguese estilo chão, and Ethiopian architecture. A careful reading of Ethiopian and European primary sources clarifies the architectural contributions of the Jesuits, further proving that Ethiopians, Indians, and Egyptians also designed and built the era’s constructions. Equally, it establishes Ethiopian royals as the primary funders—and thus influencers of—Catholic churches. The second part of the dissertation assesses the role of books, prints, and religious art as tools of conversion and artistic models. It considers how objects were imported, adapted from the Orthodox Church, or locally commissioned, arguing that the Jesuits used familiar and emotionally powerful imagery of the Virgin Mary and Christ to first attract worshipers, and then advance Counter-Reformation Catholic doctrines. Using rare mission-era prints, the project demonstrates how European models were first modified for Orthodox use in the 1620s, and explores their subsequent alteration following the Jesuits’ expulsion. Based on field and archival research conducted in Ethiopia, Portugal, and Italy, this dissertation ultimately argues that Jesuit-era Ethiopian art and architecture demonstrates the kind of cultural accommodation evident in other global Jesuit missions, and that it shares stylistic and iconographic hallmarks with Ethiopia’s later “Gondärine style.” Thus, it proposes that the “Gondärine style” originated during the Jesuit interlude, rather than after the 1636-37 foundation of Gondär.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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