Ethiopian Scribes Trying to Preserve the 4th Century Art of Parchment Making

Debre Libanos — It is generally agreed that the origin of parchment making found in Ethiopia today likely lies with Christian monks who braved crossing the Red Sea around the 4th century and brought the bible with them.

Methods exist in Ethiopia that have not been used in European parchment production for over a thousand years, Richard Pankhurst, a renowned authority on Ethiopian manuscript illustration, tells IPS.

"This makes Ethiopia unique in keeping the tradition so far into the modern age,"Pankhurst adds.

Concerns are mounting that Ethiopia's manuscript tradition and the many livelihoods and skills associated with it - such as calligraphy, parchment production, book binding, and illustration arts - are under threat.

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