Some codices have historical textiles affixed to the interior surfaces of the book boards, as shown by their hard wooden covers or ornate tooled leather bindings, which are rare fragments that have been well-protected from the elements and are in outstanding condition. Ethiopian curator Eyob Derillo claims that the characteristic bindings of Ethiopian manuscripts hold more than we might think.

The British Library now has almost 600 Ethiopian manuscripts. It is said that the majority of the books in the collection originated from the 1868 punitive expedition to Ethiopia, which was the largest group of volumes in the collection. The Magdala (Maqdala) collection, which resulted from a British mission to Ethiopia in 1868, contains 349 manuscripts from King Tewodros II’s royal library (1855-68).

(Eyob Derillo, Curator Ethiopic and Ethiopian Collections)

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