I posted this earlier today, but it vanished, so I'll try again.
These are healing scrolls from Ethiopia, a combination of Christian religious artefact and magical invocation. Ethiopia has been Christian since the 4th century AD, longer than much of Europe, but it's a very different mode of Christianity than we're used to seeing. These scrolls are made to heall someone who's gravely ill. They're made out of parchment from a single goat or lamb, cut to be exactly as tall as the sick person. Ideally the sick person is also bathed in the blood of the goat or lamb from which the parchment is taken; thus the parchment scroll is standing in for the person themselves. The scroll is then covered with religious iconography and texts.
These images are from the catalogue of a show at the Museum for African Art in New York several years ago.
This is a detail of one scroll. The figures top left are a monk and a demon; the abstract faces with eyes are cherubim.
And either an angel or a saint:
Posted by seth at May 19, 2004 08:28 PM