Illuminated Ethiopic Manuscript – 17th Century.

by Amy Collier

[ Copyright © The British Library Board ]

Above are spreads and magnified details of the stunning Ethiopic Gospels illuminated manuscript held by the The British Library. My eyes lit up when I caught sight of the remarkable miniature paintings that abundantly brim the document. This particular manuscript dates from the late 1600s; it is actually a replica of an early 15th century manuscript.

The text is in Classical Ethiopic, or Ge’ez, the language of the Ethiopian Church. Together with Assyrian and Babylonian, it differs from all other Semitic languages in being written from left to right, rather than right to left as in Arabic and Hebrew. The scribe’s small elegant script is typical of the late 17th century.


The British Library has an magnificent collection of Sacred Texts of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism. BL’s online gallery is complemented by their award-winning Turn the Pages™ program which allows you to do just that while gaining a much closer view with very fluid magnifying glass functionality.

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