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Mary Jaharis Center Presents: Divine King or Sacrilegious Upstart? The Portrait of Emperor Yǝkunno Amlak in Gännätä Maryam

March 21 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Divine King or Sacrilegious Upstart? The Portrait of Emperor Yǝkunno Amlak in Gännätä Maryam

Jacopo Gnisci,  University College London
March 21, 2023 |12:00–1:30 pm EDT | Zoom

In the third quarter of the thirteenth century Yǝkunno Amlak led a rebellion against the Zagwes – a line of Christian rulers who had been in control of most of the Empire of Ethiopia since at least the first half of the twelfth century. He initiated a line that would rule the country until the twentieth century: the Solomonic dynasty. Apart from these general facts, we know relatively little about the life of the first emperor of this dynasty. In this paper I hope to further our understanding of Yǝkunno Amlak’s reign and visual strategies by focusing on his only known contemporary portrait in the church of Gännätä Maryam. By analysing this image in its wider setting, I aim to shed some light on its socio-political background and reflect on the reactions it might have triggered.

Jacopo Gnisci is a Lecturer in the Art and Visual Cultures of the Global South at University College London and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Africa, Oceania, and the America at the British Museum. He is the co-Principal Investigator of the projects Demarginalizing medieval Africa: Images, texts, and identity in early Solomonic Ethiopia (1270-1527) (AHRC Grant Ref. no. AH/V002910/1; DFG Projektnummer 448410109) and Material Migrations: Mamluk Metalwork across Afro-Eurasia (Gerda Henkel Stiftung). His research focuses on the history of manuscript illustration, on the art and architecture of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and on the marginalization of African art in Western institutions. He has published studies on the interconnections between art and the liturgy, the transmission and reconceptualization of visual culture in medieval manuscripts, the relationship between text and image, and the use, significance, and/or symbolism of icons, metalwork, and ecclesiastical vestments in Ethiopia.

An East of Byzantium lecture. EAST OF BYZANTIUM is a partnership between the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University and the Mary Jaharis Center that explores the cultures of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine empire in the late antique and medieval periods.

Location: Please register to receive the Zoom link. Register: https://maryjahariscenter.org/events/divine-king-or-sacrilegious-upstart

Website: https://maryjahariscenter.org/


March 21
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm