Lefāfa Şedeķ (Book of the Dead) in Ethiopic
Ethiopia, nineteenth century
MS Or. 587
Ethiopic, also known as Geʻez, is an ancient South Semitic language originating in the northern region of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Today it remains as the main language used in the liturgy of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches. This tiny manuscript, written on two strips of vellum, is stitched together and folded, concertina-style, into pages. The binding consists of small wooden boards. A Lefāfa Şedeķ, often referred to as a ‘Book of the Dead’, is buried with a corpse, to which the vellum is exactly equal in length, and serves to ensure the entry of the dead person into heaven. The text consists of eleven prayers, two on one side and nine shorter ones on the other. Presented to the Library by C. H. Armbruster in 1905.