Most Ethiopian manuscripts are religious texts from the Christian faith. These manuscripts were written on parchment (made from processed animal hides, usually goat or cattle) and decorated with ink drawings and ornamental designs.
The colors of Ethiopian manuscripts are limited. Usually we find only black and red inks used in these manuscripts. Some of the more elaborate works may include a few other colors such as yellow and blue. Some modern red inks have a violet hue. The jet black ink is like that known in the West as India ink but is locally made by the Ethiopians. In Christian manuscripts, black ink was for the main body of the text while the names of God, members of the Holy Family, Saints, and similar personages were usually written in red.
Parchment manuscripts did not survive as well in the Ethiopian climate as they could in medieval and modern Europe. One reason is that the dryness of the climate causes the parchment to become brittle and even to disintegrate. Manuscripts kept in churches lasted longer, but personal and service books and scrolls that were handled frequently had to be replaced with a new copy from time to time.
The oldest known manuscripts from Ethiopia are of 10th century date. The oldest Ethiopian manuscript owned by HMML dates back to the 17th century. It has clearly escaped potentially serious damage from a fire and smells strongly of smoke. The other manuscripts date mostly to the 19th and 20th centuries. Most of the time, manuscripts can only be dated by the style of the script. It was not common to put dates on them.
Christian manuscripts are written in an ancient form of the Ethiopic language which is still used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. This language is related to modern Amharic and is called Ge’ez.(for >more>> via link )
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