An Ethiopian protective scroll.
Materials: Natural vegetable dyes and ink on vellum.
The text, in the Classical Ethiopic language (Ge'ez), comprises a prayer designed to protect a young man against evil spirits which are causing suffering.
The scroll would have been composed by a priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. It would have been carried by the owner or placed in his house to provide constant protection.
The Ethiopian protective scroll tradition incorporates both Christian and pre-Christian elements. Much of the religious iconography is clearly understood, but the precise meaning of many of the talismanic symbols is unknown.
It was believed that all afflictions of the body and soul were caused by the presence of evil spirits. The prayers in these scrolls frequently invoke the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of various saints to invest the priest with the power of healing.