I've asked it before and I'll ask it again: Do you know this man?
I've had this icon for years now and we still have no clue what we're looking at. So I did what any normal person would do: I tore into the frame.
The colors are certainly a lot brighter when it's out from behind that lousy glass, but that's not the most interesting part. This is:
Yep, it's entirely reverse-painted onto a pane of glass! No wonder it was so heavy!
So that's one clue to its origin, and once we sort out the origin we'll be closer to figuring out who is depicted. But here's an even more helpful clue to its origin:
I always say you should spend a good minute (preferably more) looking at any piece of art, but I wasn't smart enough to do that when we first got this. Turns out there's some language on it--Chris's guess was Arabic, but there are more than a few Indian languages that look like this. What it does do is effectively rule out our initial guess of this icon being Ethiopian--that language in no way resembles Amharic.
So spread the word to anyone who might know! I'm determined to find out more about this mystery icon!