Contemporary Brass Coptic Cross

Contemporary Brass Coptic Cross



The Coptic cross originates from Egypt in the 4th century, with the divorce of Coptic Orthodox Christians from mainstream Christianity. This occurred under Saint Mark and is attributed to the events of the Council of Chalcedon in 451CE. Around this time in the 4th century is also when Christianity was introduced to Ethiopia, the origin place of our Coptic crosses. This introduction was one of the first of Christianity, making the Ethiopian Orthodox Church one of the oldest Christian bodies in the world.  

Because the coptic cross originated in Egypt, it looks different than the Greek or Latin crosses that are typically associated with Christianity. Latin crosses feature two perpendicular bars, with the intersection resting higher than the middle point on the vertical bar. In contrast, the Coptic cross combines the Egyptian “ankh” with the Greek or Latin cross, adding a circular element at the top of the cross that rests on the perpendicular bars. These circular elements can be difficult to decipher in modern Coptic crosses, as stylistically they have developed into highly ornate metal pieces. 

These stylistic changes came about as Coptic Christians migrated from Egypt to Ethiopia. North Africa was particularly influential in the development of the modern Coptic cross, which served both practical as well as aesthetic purposes. Coptic crosses are traditionally used in processional marches, and the degree of filigree that stylistically developed over time serves to lessen the weight of the cross, making them easier to carry for long periods of time.  

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