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Walters Ms. W.784, Ethiopian prayer book

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Ethiopian prayer book

Text title
Theology of the Trinity (Zena Nägäromu)

Vernacular: ዜና፡ ነገሮሙ፡


As-written name: Täklä Maryam


This twentieth-century Ethiopian prayerbook is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and its miracles, and contains readings for each day of the week. The text might have been composed by Täklä Maryam, whose name appears on fol. 13r. The author felt that the Trinity was not worshipped and celebrated as it should be, not even as much as the martyrs, the angels, and the desert fathers. The manuscript itself was owned by Gäbrä Mika’el (fols. 21v, 52v, and passim). It still retains its double leather satchel, complete with the remains of a carrying strap, which suggests that it may have been taken on pilgrimages. Small bits of colored thread have been attached to the corners of the first folios of the readings, an unusual solution to helping the reader navigate the text. Written in Gǝ'ǝz, Ethiopia's liturgical language, the manuscript appears to have been originally undecorated, with knot work added to the upper margins of the first two readings at a later date.


Mid 20th century CE








The primary language in this manuscript is Geez.

Support material


Heavy, slightly yellowed parchment; colored thread attached to corners of folios to mark the beginnings of readings


Foliation: iv+80

The last two folios of the manuscript are blank, and have not been foliated, but are integral to the structure of the manuscript; two sets of pencil foliation: one that includes the blank pages, in parenthesis in upper right corners; one that begins foliation on first page of text, below other foliation (used here)


Formula: iv, 1(10), 2(10), 3(10), 4(10), 5(10), 6(10), 7(10), 8(10)

Comments: Quires begin on fols. 1(1), 11(2), 21(3), 31(4), 41(5), 51(6), 61(7), and 71(8)


9.9 cm wide by 13.1 cm high

Written surface

7.0 cm wide by 8.8 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 13-15

fols. 1r - 78r:
  1. Title: Theology of the Trinity (Zena Nägäromu)
  2. Text note: Text is the Story of the Trinity, a devotional work divided into the introduction, seven parts for the seven days of the week, and a concluding prayer; in some manuscripts it is called the Sword of the Trinity, ሰይፈ፡ ሥላሴ፡ (Säyfä Śǝllase).
  3. Decoration note: Undecorated except for possibly added headpiece with interlace design, fol. 1r, and knot with wings in upper margin, fol. 6r; headings in red ink; text in black
fols. 1r - 5v:
  1. Title: Introduction
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . ንጽሕፍ፡ ዜና፡ ነገሮሙ፤ በጽሒፍሰ፡ ኢንክል፡ ፈጽሞ፡ አላ፡ በከመ፡ አክሃለነ፡ እግዚአብሔር፡ ነገረ፡ ውዳሴሆሙሰ፡ ኢይክሉ፡ ሰማይ፡ ወምድር፡
  3. Decoration note: Added headpiece, fol. 1r
fols. 6r - 14v:
  1. Title: Reading for Monday (zä-Śänuy)
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . እነቅህ፡ በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . .እትነሣእ፡ በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . አአትብ፡ ገጽየ፡ በትእምርተ፡ መስቀል፡ በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . አአምን፡ በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . .እትመሐፀን፡ በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . ፩አምላክ፡ . . . (continued on fol. 6v) ተማኅፀንኩ፡ በ፫ገጽ፡ ወበ፩መለኮት፡
  3. Contents: Included in the reading for Monday: fols. 8r-9v: A salutation (sälam) hymn to the Trinity; fols. 13r-14v: A miracle of the Trinity: the heavenly reward a person who brings an offering in the name of the Trinity would be rewarded;
  4. Text note: Ten lines from the beginning of the reading for Monday were edited and translated by Débora Lifchitz (bibliography)
  5. Decoration note: Added winged knot, fol. 6r
fols. 15r - 24v:
  1. Title: Reading for Tuesday (zä-Śälus)
  2. Incipit: 1. : በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . አአትብ፡ ፍጽምየ፡ በመለኮተ፡ ሥሉስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ አአትብ፡ ከዋላየ፡ በመለኮተ፡ ሥሉስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ አአትብ፡ የማንየ፡ በመለኮተ፡ ሥሉስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ . . . (continued on fol. 15v) ከመ፡ ኢትቅርቡኒ፡ ሰይጣናት፡ መናፍስተ፡ ርኩሳን፡ . . . እሰድግ፡ ለአብ፡ ወወልድ፡ ወመንፈስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ ለዘ፩፫፡
  3. Contents: Included in the reading for Tuesday: fols. 24r-v: A miracle of the Trinity: how a man of Palestine made beer (mǝzr) for a commemorative feast (täzkar) for the Trinity and how he expelled many demons from the beer (mǝzr) and showed them to the people
fols. 25r - 32r:
  1. Title: Reading for Wednesday (zä-Räbu‛)
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . ኅቡራነ፡ ህልዋን፡ ሥሉስ፡ በተገጽዎ፡ አብ፡ ወወልድ፡ ወመንፈስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ በጽማሬ፡ ሥሉስ፡ በሥላሴ፡ ጽሙር፡
  3. Contents: Included in the reading for Wednesday: fols. 31r-32r: A miracle of the Trinity: how a governor of Palestine ordered his army to make a commemorative feast (täzkar) for the Trinity, if they wished to live in his country
fols. 32v - 41v:
  1. Title: Reading for Thursday (zä-Ḥamus)
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . በሥላሴ፡ አብ፡ ግጽው፡ ዋሕድ፡ አምላክ፡ ፫አዕማደ፡ ብርሃን፡ ፩አምጣኖሙ፡ ወ፩ስኖሙ፡ ፫መባርቅት፡ ወ፩ንጥረ፡ መለኮት፡ . . .
  3. Contents: Included in the reading for Thursday: fols. 40v-41v: A miracle of the Trinity: how those who celebrate the feast of the Trinity are taken to the seat of glory and crowned
fols. 42r - 52v:
  1. Title: Reading for Friday (zä-‛Arb)
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . ዓይን፡ (Sic) ልሳን፡ ወዓይ፡ ከናፍር፡ ዘይክል፡ ነቢበ፡ ግብሩ፡ ለሥላሴ፡
  3. Contents: Included in the reading for Friday: fols. 45v-51r: A glorification (sǝbḥat) hymn to the Trinity; fols. 51r-52v: A miracle of the Trinity: how they bless with the cross those who read the book of the Trinity and cleanse their sins, and how they defend them from the enemy if they inscribe the name of the Trinity on their faces
fols. 53r - 61r:
  1. Title: Reading for Saturday (zä-Qädamit)
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . ሰላም፡ ለፍቅረ፡ መለኮት፡ በትስብዕቱ፡ ዘጾመ፡ እንበይነ፡ ዚአሁ፡ አርአያሁ፡ ከመ፡ የሀበነ፡ ሰላመ፡
  3. Contents: Included in the reading for Saturday: fols. 53r-56v: A salutation (sälam) to the love of the Divinity; fols. 60r-61v: A miracle of the Trinity: how the voice of the Trinity will dominate the whole universe
fols. 61v - 69v:
  1. Title: Reading for Sunday (zä-Ǝḫud)
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . አኃሥሥ፡ ጽድቀ፡ እምኀቤከ፡ ኦቀመረ፡ ጽድቅ፡ አኃሥሥ፡ ጥበበ፡ እምኔከ፡ ኦሙዳየ፡ ጥበብ፡ ኦሥሉስ፡ ቅዱስ፡
  3. Contents: Included in the reading for Sunday: fols. 67v-69v: A miracle of the Trinity: how they spoke and ordered the Keeping of the Feast of the Trinity as the annual feast of Easter, and how the faithful obeyed
fols. 70r - 78r:
  1. Title: Concluding prayer (Tämaḫṣ́änku)
  2. Incipit: በስመ፡ አብ፡ . . . ተማኅፀንኩ፡ ብክሙ፡ አብ፡ ወወልድ፡ ወመንፈስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ በከመ፡ አተውክሙ፡ ቤተ፡ አብርሃም፡ ከማሁ፡ አዕትውኒ፡ ውስተ፡ መንበርክሙ። ተማኅፀንኩ፡


fol. 1r:

  1. W.784, fol. 1r
  2. Title: Knotwork headpiece
  3. Form: Headpiece
  4. Text: Theology of the Trinity: Introduction
  5. Comment:

    This is a later addition.

fol. 6r:

  1. W.784, fol. 6r
  2. Title: Winged knot
  3. Form: Marginal decoration
  4. Text: Theology of the Trinity: Reading for Monday
  5. Comment:

    This is a later addition.


The binding is original.

Bound between two plain wooden boards, open spine; housed in a mahdar double leather case with strap


Gäbrä Mika’el, mid twentieth century, ownership inscriptions on fols. 21v, 52v, and passim

Gabra Mika'el Wubnah, possibly different from above and third owner, inscription on fol. 71v


Museum purchase, 1976


Holbert, Kelly, ed. Ethiopian Art: The Walters Art Museum. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 2001.

Haile, Getatchew and William F. Macomber. A Catalogue of Ethiopian Manuscripts Microfilmed for the Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library, Addis Ababa and for the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, Collegeville. Vol. V: Project Numbers 1501-2000. Collegeville, Minnesota: 1981, p. 392. See this for Täklä Maryam.

Lifchitz, Débora. Textes éthiopiens magico-religieux, Université de Paris. Travaux et memoires de l'Institut d'Ethnologie, no. 38 (1940), pp. 216-217. See this for Reading for Monday.


Principal cataloger: Getatchew Haile, .

Cataloger: Herbert, Lynley

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Isaac, Ephraim; Noel, William; Pizzinato, Riccardo; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.