Monday, August 13, 2012

Debre Birhan Selassie Church

Debre Birhan Selassie church was built by Emperor Eyasu II in the 17th Century.  It's the only ancient church of this style and age still standing in Gonder.  In 1888 the Dervishes of Sudan attacked Gonder and burned down every other church in the city except this one.  Legend says that when the soldiers approached the church they were met by a huge swarm of bees that kept them away and the church safe. It is also believed that the Archangel Michael himself stood at the door protecting the church from harm.

It's a wonderful example of ancient Ethiopian church art.  A must see in Gonder.
There are two entrances; one for men (in the front) and one at the side (for women).  The girls were thrilled to have to remove their shoes.  No flash photography was allowed to preserve the paintings.  Some of the colors are still very vivid.  I really love the ceiling covered with the Ethiopian angels.  In Ethiopian art good people are painted with two eyes showing.  Bad people are painted in profile with one eye showing.  
In the top left is the King in the castle, his face is in profile.  One eye=bad guy. 

Angels facing east and west
drums representing Jesus, played during chanting
The priests lived in the top of these guard towers.  
Now the priests live in the top of the building shown here.  It's the building at the front gate of the church.

1 comment:

Nomads By Nature said...

The eye/s detail is so cool!