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The church of Tekle Haymanot, Azezo

A detailed study of the paintings in the church of Tekle Haymanot, Azezo.

The church of Tekle Haymanot, on the outskirts of Azezo, is located on top of a hill overlooking Gondar airport. It was founded by Emperor Susenyos (r. 1607–32) and became a major political and religious centre during his reign and that of his son, Emperor Fasilidas (r. 1632–67). It has close links with the important monastery of Debre Libanos.

In 1532 Debre Libanos was burnt by the Muslim forces of El-Gragn and the community of monks fled north. They wandered along the shore of Lake Tana till eventually Emperor Fasilidas settled the community in Azezo where the monastery of Debre Libanos of Shewa was re-established. During the Mahdist invasion of Gondar in 1889 the church of Tekle Haymanot was partially destroyed. However, restoration took place during HIM Haile Selassie’s reign and the paintings now seen on the walls of the maqdas were executed in 1960 EC (1966–67 AD) by Alaqa Nekea Tibeb Bekure Tsion from Gondar.

Abuna Basilewos (1883–1970), the first Ethiopian patriarch, had been consecrated abuna in January 1951. He had also been the echege of Debre Libanos since 1934 and therefore Tekle Haymanot was his spiritual mentor. Here the story comes full circle – Abuna and Emperor together visit Azezo to pay tribute to Saint Tekle Haymanot and to inaugurate the new paintings. The event is depicted in a painting on the east wall and on the west wall of the maqdas.

The cycle of paintings is extremely rich and carefully executed. The walls of the maqdas are tall and divided into seven registers, allowing for a wealth of iconography to be displayed not usually seen in other churches. The lecture will focus on the most important and unusual scenes as well as some background information needed to better appreciate the iconographic scheme of Tekle Haymanot’s murals.


Maria-Josť Friedlander | talks


Date and Time:

11 October 2011 at 6:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
+44 (0)20 7862 8949
Show map

Organised by:

The Anglo-Ethiopian Society
See other talks organised by The Anglo-Ethiopian Society...



Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

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Additional Information:

6:30pm, Main Lecture Theatre, Warburg Institute

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