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Ethiopian Manuscripts

Forty-five items, on parchment and paper, dating mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. Ethiopian MSS 1-31 were purchased in 1901 with the Crawford collection, the remainder being acquired subsequently from various sources.

The collection comprises mainly biblical and liturgical manuscripts, and stories of saints and martyrs.

Included are:

  • a rare collection of biblical passages supposedly referring to the Messiah and intended to prove the divinity of Christ (Ethiopian MS 1)
  • Rules for the monastic life (Ethiopian MS 16)
  • the Fetha Nägäst (Ethiopian MS 13)
  • a deed of gift of the Emperor Adbar Sagad, Dawit III (1716-21), to the church of St Michael (Ethiopian MS 28)

Among the poems are some rare mälke': the Four Beasts (Ethiopian MS 14) and, especially, concerning Zena Marqos, a 14th-century saint-monk (Ethiopian MS 37).

Ethiopian MSS 29-34 are magical scrolls, mainly 19th-century.

Ethiopian MS 11, an 18th-century Homilies in honour of St Michael, contains 32 miniatures in the Gondar style of illumination.

Ten codices can be dated precisely (1590-1742).

Finding aids

  • Stefan Strelcyn, Catalogue of Ethiopic Manuscripts in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (Manchester, 1974).
  • Ethiopian mss 43–45 are described in Stephen Delamarter and Demeke Berhane, A Catalogue of Previously Uncatalogued Ethiopic Manuscripts in England: twenty-three manuscripts in the Bodleian, Cambridge University and John Rylands University libraries and in a private collection, Journal of Semitic Studies, Supplement 21 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library