For the Christians of Ethiopia, the Cross has been of great importance since the dawn of the existence of their country; the first Christian king, Ezana of Axum, as soon as in 4th century placed this symbol upon his coins.
For centuries, Ethiopian crosses have been undergoing evolution, and nowadays the richness of the forms of theirs surpasses anything that can be seen anywhere else in the world.
Processional crosses are large and impressive. They have an empty handle, into which the shaft, making it possible to carry them above the heads of the faithful in the course of religious ceremonies, is inserted. Personal crosses or crosses to be held in hand are smaller in sizes and their handle is finished with a decorative widened part, providing support for the palm. They are used for blessing the faithful. The faithful wear on-neck crosses.
Initially, the sign of the membership of the Church was a string (mateb), tied around the neck after the ceremony of christening. As time was passing, the crosses came to be strung on the string. In 15th century, Emperor Zara Yaqob issued a decree commanding each and every of the Christians to wear a cross on their neck.
Due to their style, the following kinds of crosses are differentiated: Lalibela – having a characteristic oval shape, Gondar – is a generally circular, and Axum, the most similar to the classic form.
A cross may be a beautiful and original souvenir.