October 28th, 2008
Another scroll reproduced in Ethiopian Magic Scrolls.
“This image is recognizably a development of the eight-pointed star [c.f. previous post]. Here the image tends towards formal perfection. A double movement animates it: expansion following the four vertical and horizontal arms and the angel’s heads, and penetration following the four diagonal points. We have noted… that the former are the directions of the Cross (i.e., of a body with outstretched arms), and the latter direction of the penetrating gaze. The black lobate curve articulates this double movement here, so that it appears to begin from a circular form. The eyes of the central face are placed on the transversal axis. If we consider the genesis of this picture through related motifs, we will note that what have become here the radiating points of the central face were originally part of the angel’s clothing. They have been separated from the collar and shifted toward the center, for purely formal reasons.
“The Virgin’s Prayer at Bartos says: ‘Come, you four angels who hold up the four corners of the world and who are called Fertiyal, Ferfay, Fumael and Fananyal’. The winged faces are the angels of the four directions. Who are they guarding? The hidden face of the divine? The owner of the scroll? Satan in prison? All of these explanations are current among dabtaras who make such pictures” (p118).