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Lake Tana

The country could be subject to fire and sword, but no invader ever troubled the serene peace of Lake Tana. For that reason, the Ethiopian kings safely hid their treasures in churches on the lake’s islands. But upon careful observation, another treasure is revealed as one discovers the mural paintings in these churches: they can be read like a book of Ethiopian history. At dawn, coming up to Dek, the largest of the 30-odd islands and islets scattered on Lake Tana, A single gateway is visible in the distance, standing on the water’s edge in a majestic natural setting. But once past the door, you realize that beauty Has a price: The majority of Lake Tana’s churches were built between the 14th and 18th centuries, following the same architectural plan. The three circles represent the Holy Trinity. In Ethiopian iconography, it is always represented by three identical old men “because you cannot differentiate between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” In the churches of Lake Tana, the lower register of the sanctuary wall is Devoted to Ethiopian history. Important moments in the lives of local kings and saints are portrayed in successive images, telling the people what they cannot read in the Many Ethiopian manuscripts written on parchment, as these were generally written in Gu’ez language. The language died out in the 14th century and today it is used only in liturgy.  


Photo's by Mekonen Zewdie ©2011 "Ethiopia At a Glance" www.ethiopiaataglance.com

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