Ethiopian manuscript Magic Scroll fragment, c. 1875.


Ethiopic magic scrolls  are illustrated textual amulets designed to be worn on the body for personal protection and healing. The scrolls were tightly rolled and kept in tubular red leather cases when not being viewed or read. Constructed with a cap or completely sewn shut, the scroll cases were worn around the neck of their owner. These manuscripts are written in Ge’ez, the sacred and liturgical language of Coptic Christians in Ethiopia. The magic scrolls date from the 18th to 20th centuries, but most are from the 19th century.
The scrolls eliminate illness by purging evil spirits and demons from a sick person. Part of a larger healing ritual, the scrolls were commissioned by the illiterate to combat grave illnesses. While plant and animal medicines alleviate physical symptoms, the medicinal scrolls alleviate spiritual symptoms.  The scrolls restore health by utilizing written words and talismanic images imbued with magical protective powers.
To work, talismans exploit the eye's power to cause good and evil. In Ethiopian talismanic art, the eyes are the conduits through which illness-causing demons leave the body. During the healing process, scrolls are unrolled, priests recite prayers, holy water is distributed, and images are displayed. The talismanic images are seen by the demon through the eyes of their human victim. The eyes of the talismanic figures on the scroll reflect the gaze of the afflicted until the demon flees. This act of reciprocal viewing is key to the healing act, as invoking the names of god alone will not cause the retreat of demons. To hasten the effectiveness of the gaze, many figures are reduced to faces or eyes. 
Size: approx.470x90 mm.  Postage within Australia $10.  Overseas: ask for quote.
Item No. EPH 004

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