Tana Chirkos, Judism in Ethiopia

Posted: June 11, 2016 in Ethiopia - the Secret of Africa, Tour Itineraries of Ethiopia
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This small island monastery, separated from teh eastern shore by a narrow marshy corridor, is dominate be by as stirking spin of rock perhaps 30m high, and fringed by riparian forest supporting several paris of fish eagle. It has acquired something approaching cultu status sine the publication of Grahm Hancock’s book ‘The Sign and the Seal’, in which it is claimed that the islands monks have an ancient tradition that the Ark of the Covenant was kept here for 800 years before it was removed to Axum in the 4th century AD by King Ezana. Traditions has it that the Christian monastery was founded during the 6the Century reign of Gebre Meskel by Saint Yared and Abune Aregawi. The church building, though reasonably old, is architecturally undistinguished and rather ramshackle, with no paintings that appear to be more than a decade old.

Far more interesting than the monastery itself is a trio of hollowed out sacrificial pillars alongside it, testifying to the island’s importance as a Judaic religious shrine in per-Christian times. Given the Ethiopian predilection for mythologising – a ‘footprint’ on one of the isldand’s rock is claimed to be that of none other than Jesus Christ – it is stretching a point to conclude, as Hancock does, that these pillars provide circumstantial support for the Ark having onec resided on the island.

Tana Chirkos lies some three hours from Bahir Dar by boat; the walk from the jetty to the monastery takes no more than five minutes. On the way to the island (coming back), it is possible to look a two further monastires, both on small forested island about 30 minutes from Tana Chirkos. These are Rema Medhane Alem, a recently rebuilt church in which are stored a few interesting old paintings, and Misele Fasiliads, founded during the rule of teh Empreor after how it is named and architecturally undistinguished – though the surrounding forest is rich in birdlife.

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