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Ethiopia Sets On quest to replicate old manuscripts to preserve heritage


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Ethiopia is embarking on a remarkable mission to replicate old manuscripts, aiming to preserve its rich cultural heritage.

The endeavor, undertaken at the Hamere Berhan Institute in Addis Ababa, involves a dedicated team of Ethiopian Orthodox priests and lay worshippers meticulously copying texts and sacred artwork onto goatskin parchments using traditional bamboo ink pens.

The project, which started four years ago, is a response to the alarming disappearance of ancient parchment manuscripts from Ethiopian culture.

Ethiopia Sets On quest to replicate old manuscripts to preserve heritage

These invaluable works are predominantly housed in monasteries, where the rituals and prayers are conducted using parchment manuscripts rather than paper. However, this time-honored custom is gradually fading away.

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Yeshiemebet Sisay, the 29-year-old communications officer at Hamere Berhan, explains the motivation behind the initiative. “We thought if we could learn the skills from our priests, we could work on it ourselves,” she says, emphasizing the importance of preserving this ancient tradition.

Within the institute’s premises, workers carefully stretch the goatskins over metal frames in the courtyard, allowing them to dry under the gentle rays of the sun that struggle to penetrate the cloudy sky.

Ethiopia Sets On quest to replicate old manuscripts to preserve heritage

The replication of these manuscripts not only safeguards Ethiopia’s cultural legacy but also strengthens the connection of those involved in the process with their spirituality.

Zelalem Mola, a 42-year-old Orthodox priest, finds solace in this painstaking task, believing it brings him closer to God.

As Ethiopia endeavors to preserve its ancient manuscripts, it sets an inspiring example of dedication and reverence for cultural heritage that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on future generations.


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