Ethiopian art takes many forms within either an abstract or Christian context. Ethiopia has been a Christian nation since the 4th C. and the silver crosses take three major forms. Those with hollow round bases were mounted on staffs and carried during processionals or displayed on altars. Medium-size crosses with no bases were hand carried during services. Small pendant neck crosses were worn by Christians originally because of a 15th C. decree.
Ethiopian headrests take several forms, many intricately incised. Ethiopian animal hide shields, pounded wet onto wooden forms, dried and removed, are among the most impressive and prized in Africa. Ethiopian jewelry, stools and baskets are both simple and elegant. Ethiopian ikons, painted on several wooden or metal forms, are in the classic Eastern Orthodox or Coptic style.