Scribes from Ethiopia (East Tigray): practices, profiles, portraits
17 December 2021
On 17 December 2021 Denis Nosnitsin spoke on "Scribes frm Ethiopia (East Tigray): practices, profiles, portraits" at the Oxford (online), conference Scribal Identity and Agency
Ethiopia is distinguished by an ancient Christian culture that emerged as early as the 4th century CE. It involved the creation of Christian literature in a local language, and the rise of a professional group of scribes responsible for the transmission of Christian texts and production of parchment manuscripts. The Ethiopian Christian tradition of manuscript making continues until now. The paper will present the scribal community of a part of northern Ethiopia (East Tigray) in historical perspective, exploring types of scribes, their working settings, modes of their work and their self-expression as we can trace it today in the manuscripts. While the role of monastic centres of writing was diminishing, a flexible network of rural scribes seems to have existed already in the late pre-modern times, becoming the main supplier of manuscripts for the local ecclesiastic institutions. Additionally the paper will present a ‘case study’ dealing with one of the several prolific scribes recorded in the area.