When one thinks of a rare book collection, a picture of rows of old books comes to mind. And books are certainly a large part of the Krug Rare Books Collection at the Central Library. But the collection contains a few surprises and one of them is the Ethiopian magic scroll.
The scroll measures about 194 x 10 cm. and is thought to date from about 1890. It is written in the Ge'ez language.
"Magic (or healing) scrolls usually are long, narrow vertical strips of parchment covered with handwritten texts - protective prayers, spell-casting formulas - decorated with drawn and painted images. Such scrolls were created, and still are, by traditional healers and diviners to generate live spiritual power in the material world. They were carried by the owner at all times." (Taken from "Ethiopian Magic Scrolls: Talismanic Art of Ethiopia," New York Times, May 19, 2011)
Viewing the Ethopian magic scroll may be arranged by calling the Art, Music & Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 and making an appointment with a member of the Rare Books team.
To search holdings in the Rare Books Room please click here.
Submitted by Patricia DeFrain, Rare Books Librarian