image preview


Ethiopia, Africa




Ink and paint on parchment


4 1/16 ✕ 5 1/8 in. (10.3 ✕ 13.0 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020

Accession Number



Purchased by David P. Harris from Constantine Z. Panayotidis (Antiques by Constantine Ltd.) in London on October 21, 1975.


A tear near the center of the upper edge has been stitched; there is evidence of restoration to the green paint on the apostle side and flaking of paint on the abun side.


Brad Hostetler, and Lynn Jones, eds., Ethiopian Objects in the Blick-Harris Study Collection: Art, Context, and the Persistence of Form, Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): pp. 5–25, 41–51, 165–76, 189–90, cat. 33.


This parchment leaf has full-page framed miniatures on both sides. A group of three men is depicted on each side; all six wear red tunics beneath striped mantles and hold prayer staffs in their left hands. On one side, the men depicted are young with black hair and beards, and hold bound books with crosses on the covers in their right hands. Naming inscriptions in Gəʿəz outside the lower frame identify them as Yaʿəqob, P̣eṭros, and Yoḥannəs — the apostles James, Peter, and John. On the other side, the men depicted are older, and are shown with white hair and long, white beards; they hold small crosses in their right hands. Naming inscriptions to the left of the figures’ heads — Arägawi, Alef, and Afṣe — identify each as an abun, a title used for priests, bishops, and monastic holy men.

The color palette of the leaf consists primarily of red, green, and brown. The backgrounds of the miniatures are a field of two colors: red on the left and green on the right. On the apostle side of the leaf the figures are outlined in black and their skin tone is provided by the color of the parchment. On the abun side the skin tone of the figures is painted a rich brown.

This leaf was originally part of a larger manuscript and was, at some point, disarticulated. A small strip of parchment, with a parchment thong still stitched to it, is folded over one lateral edge of the leaf. The parchment thong would serve to attach this leaf to another. Along the opposite edge, the leaf curls in the opposite direction. These two edges reveal that the adjacent pieces of parchment originally attached to this leaf were folded in opposite directions, making the manuscript to which this leaf belonged a sənsul.

Caitlin Mims, in Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 189.

2020.189.3.pdf (911 kB)
Purchase Receipt and Supporting Documents

2020.189.3-back.jpg (512 kB)


sensul, ge'ez