Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Aneta PAWŁOWSKA, University of Lodz

These collections are associated with three renowned Poles who were the forerunners of research concentrated on rich and diverse Ethiopian art and culture. The three researchers who I would like to discuss are Stanislaw Chojnacki, Wacław Korabiewicz and Stefan Strelcyn. Each dedicated his life and passion to the Christian culture of Ethiopia. Thanks to their works, various Polish museums, archives and libraries are enriched by their valuable Ethiopic collections. Waclaw Korabiewicz (1903-1994) was a physician who gathered a substantial collection of Ethiopian crosses while working in Ethiopia. He wrote a number of books on this subject and became an international expert in this field. At the end of his life, Dr. Korabiewicz decided to donate his entire collection of Ethiopian crosses to the National Museum in Warsaw. Professor Stefan Strelcyn (1918-1981), was involved in Semitic studies at the University of Warsaw. In the postwar years, he founded the first African Institute at the University of Warsaw and became well-known as a researcher of Ethiopian religious texts. In 1967, Emperor Haile Selassie awarded him the most honored Ethiopian cultural award. Professor Stanislaw Chojnacki (1915-2010), was a librarian, historian and horticulturalist. From 1950 until 1975, he held the position of Librarian at the University College of Addis Ababa. He spent no less than 25 years of his life in Ethiopia, the last 12 (1963-75) as a museum curator at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. Chojnacki fell under the spell of Ethiopia. Although he was not a professional art historian with formal training, his expertise in this field was inspired and nurtured by the country itself and its ancient Christian Church. His command of the principal West-European languages, besides his native Polish, enabled him to make full use of all published work in the field, and he gained sufficient familiarity with the old liturgical language of the country Ge'ez to cope with the marginal inscriptions which usually accompany an Ethiopian painting. In one of his most important books on Ethiopian Art entitled Major Themes in Ethiopian Painting: Indigenous Developments, The Influence of Foreign Models and their Adaptation from the 13th to the 13th to the 19th Century, he described comprehensively the Ethiopian tradition of Christian religious painting.