Antique leather amulet kitabe scrolls from Ethiopia

History of the Kitabe

Posted on July 11, 2013

We collect these incredible leather amulet scrolls also known as Kitabe’s, from Ethiopia and incorporate them into our one-off neckpieces.

Each Kitabe is individual, and worn for a man’s lifetime. Written for one particular person, the text is in Ethiopic (Ge’ez), a Semitic language that is no longer spoken, but is still used for liturgical and other religious purposes by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The scrolls inside are occasionally paper, but are most often vellum, usually calfskin, prepared by a lengthy exposure in lime, scraped with a rounded knife and finally rubbed smooth with pumice stone. The vellum is often scored with a pin, and then written in black ink with titles and holy names often scribed in red. Although the subjects of these ‘bibles’ are always Christian, the actual content varies.

It is difficult to date these pieces, which were made as early as the fourteenth century and continued through until about 1850.

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