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Ethiopian Gospels
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Ethiopian Gospels

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description This Gospel Book was written in Tegray, Northern Ethiopia, in the early fourteenth century, and was once owned by the church of St. George in Dabra Maar. It was written by the scribe Matre Krestos in the official liturgical language of Ethiopia, Ge'ez. Most notable is its prefatory image cycle, which makes references to holy places in Jerusalem, such as Golgotha and the Holy Sepulcher, as they appeared in the sixth century. The manuscript therefore appears to be based on a sixth-century exemplar containing images connected to the Byzantine cult of holy places. Several related manuscripts have been identified that seem to be based on the same prototype, most notably Paris, Bibliotheque nationale eth. 32, a fragment in the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, Inventory No. 3475 a-b, and another fragment in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, NM B 2034. The Paris manuscript contains a mid-fourteenth-century colophon which helps date the group. Although water has damaged some of its elaborately decorated pages, this Gospel Book is still an important record of the resurgence of monasticism that flourished in fourteenth-century Ethiopia.
Date Description Narrative
Loan Considerationexamined for loan
8/17/2016Examinationexamined for condition; examined for loan
  • African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1993-1994.
  • Ethiopian Art at The Walters. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1996.
  • Angels of Light: Ethiopian Art from the Walters Art Museum. Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton; Museum of Biblical Art, New York. 2006-2007.
  • Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2016-2017.
Provenance Copied by Matre Krestos in Northern Ethiopia, early fourteenth century. Abba Arkä Sellus; given to Church of Mary of Seku; Church of St. George at Dabra Ma'ar, before 1973. Robert and Nancy Nooter Collection [Nooter 20.15], Washington, D.C.; purchased by Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1996.
Credit Museum purchase with funds provided by the W. Alton Jones Foundation Acquisition Fund, 1996

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early 14th century
ink and pigments on heavy, yellow parchment bound between plain wooden boards, broken and stitched, front and back; chain stitching at four points
(Manuscripts & Rare Books)
Accession Number
H: 10 1/2 x W: 6 11/16 x D: 4 1/2 in. (26.7 x 17 x 11.4 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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