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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 03/25/2020 | 1048 Views | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

Safeguarding Tigray's Wall Paintings

An Adventurous Start | Episode 1

Some of the earliest and most significant examples of Ethiopian ecclesiastical art can be found in the Tigray region. While the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in the Wollo Province about 500 kilometers from Tigray have attracted international attention by pilgrimages, tourism, and scientific research, Tigray's churches and their unique wall paintings are still quite unknown outside the country. They are particularly vulnerable due to stone falls and crumbling walls. A fifth of the paintings has already been destroyed in the last 50 years. The director of the Ethiopian Heritage Fund (EHF), Blair Priday, and EHF's team are working on a project supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation to archive and protect the exceptional murals of Tigray's churches. However, there is some climbing involved to reach the impressive, rock-hewn churches.



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The project
In Tigray, northern Ethiopia, the unique murals of more than one hundred churches count among the earliest examples of Christian iconography. Since those churches are mostly rock-hewn, the buildings and their wall paintings are particularly prone to rock falls caused by earthquakes, high humidity, or high salt content of the walls. Unfavorable weather conditions may also cause damage and even lead to the dissolution of the paintings carved into the walls. Blair Priday, Director of the Ethiopian Heritage Fund (EHF) has been working for several years on the restoration and protection of the cultural-religious heritage in the form of murals in the churches of Tigray. Together with the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH), regional cultural offices, the Addis Ababa University and the Mekelle University, her current project aims to register in order to preserve the vulnerable examples of Christian iconography. The data will be archived and processed centrally so that quick and easy access is guaranteed.

Project leadership

Blair Priday



Peter Prestel

Resa Asarschahab

Resa Asarschahab

Series created by
Gisela Graichen und Peter Prestel

All episodes
An Adventurous Start
Episode 1
A Spectacular Church In The Rock
Episode 2
Coming soon
Everyday Problems
Episode 3
ab 04/08/2020
Coming soon
Key Piece in Debre Tsion
Episode 4
ab 04/15/2020
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Co-Operation In Mekelle
Episode 5
ab 04/22/2020
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The Land Of Rock Churches
Episode 6
ab 04/29/2020
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Ethiopian Heritage Funds's Vision
Episode 7
ab 05/06/2020
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The General Interview with Stephen Rickerby and Lisa Shekede
Episode 8
ab 05/13/2020

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