Qes Deseta Altah, Gelawdios, Ethiopia 2009

Qes Deseta Altah (close), Gelawdios, Ethiopia 2009

Qes Deseta Altah, Gelawdios, Ethiopia 2009

Qes Deseta Altah was one of my informants for my dissertation research on Ethiopian scribal production. I took this portrait while meeting with him at his home in Gelawdios, outside of Bahir Dar.

Hermit, Festival of Maryam Tsion, Axum, Ethiopia, 2009

Hermit, Festival of Maryam Tsion, Axum, Ethiopia, 2009

An eremite watches the celebrations outside of the church compound of Maryam Tsion (St. Mary of Zion), the holiest church in Ethiopia, and supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. The yearly festival of St. Mary is the premiere holiday in Axum.

Entrance, Bete Medhane Alem, Lalibela, Woldia, Ethiopia, October 2007

Entrance, Bete Medhane Alem, Lalibela, Woldia, Ethiopia, October 2007

Looking from the original ground level down to the walkway-level entrance to┬áBete Medhane Alem (‘Church of the Medicine of the World,’ a name for Christ), the largest church in Lalibela. The pillars have been partially restored with quarried stone.

Priest and Crosses, Abba Libanos Church, Lalibela, Woldia, Ethiopia, October 2007

Priest and Crosses, Abba Libanos Church, Lalibela, Woldia, Ethiopia, October 2007

Lalibela, envisioned as a second, African, Jerusalem, is a pilgrimage site in Ethiopia, site of churches cut out of the living rock, and home to a great multitude of priests and deacons, who manage the churches, conduct services, and give tours.

This priest is showing off processional crosses from the treasury of his church.

Sunbeam, Bete Golgotha Church, Lalibela, Woldia, Ethiopia, October 2007

Sunbeam, Bete Golgotha Church, Lalibela, Woldia, Ethiopia, October 2007

A sun beam coming through a small window illuminates the interior of Bete Golgotha Church.

Sometimes lumped together with its sister church, Bete Debre Sina into the same unit, called Bete Kidus Mikael, Bete Golgotha is meant to evoke its biblical namesake. Inside, in addition to several bas-relief figures and a symbolic tomb of Christ (obscured by curtains), a narrow passageway connects to Trinity chapel, a place so sacred that it is even off-limits to most Lalibela priests.