[St. Thomas Cross]

Wood Carving Cross.jpg
Circa 2006
Kerala, India

Traditional East Syriac design

At the core of Syriac culture in India is the tradition that Christianity was first brought to the subcontinent by the Apostle Thomas. Today, the “St. Thomas Cross” is a symbol of that shared heritage among the many Syriac denominations in India. The modern wooden cross on display here is from the south Indian state of Kerala where a Syriac Christian presence can be traced for over 1500 years. The symbols of this cross (a dove, a lotus blossom, and pearl) reflect its cultural context. The dove is a reference to the role of the Holy Spirit in the rebirth of the Christian through the waters of baptism. A similar symbolism may also be invoked by the placement of the cross as the flower of lotus blossom, a Buddhist symbol of rebirth or enlightenment. Finally, the pearl was a frequent Syriac Christian motif based on Jesus’ comparison of the kingdom of heaven to a “pearl of great price.”

Title

[St. Thomas Cross]
[Saint Thomas Cross]

Publisher

Kerala, India

Date

Circa 2006

Description

Traditional East Syriac design
At the core of Syriac culture in India is the tradition that Christianity was first brought to the subcontinent by the Apostle Thomas. Today, the “St. Thomas Cross” is a symbol of that shared heritage among the many Syriac denominations in India. The modern wooden cross on display here is from the south Indian state of Kerala where a Syriac Christian presence can be traced for over 1500 years. The symbols of this cross (a dove, a lotus blossom, and pearl) reflect its cultural context. The dove is a reference to the role of the Holy Spirit in the rebirth of the Christian through the waters of baptism. A similar symbolism may also be invoked by the placement of the cross as the flower of lotus blossom, a Buddhist symbol of rebirth or enlightenment. Finally, the pearl was a frequent Syriac Christian motif based on Jesus’ comparison of the kingdom of heaven to a “pearl of great price.”

Rights

Public domain

Source

Private Collection

Files

Wood Carving Cross.jpg

Citation

“[St. Thomas Cross],” Gallery, accessed September 15, 2019, https://gallery.library.vanderbilt.edu/items/show/2572.