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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ethiopian Magic Literature
Author:Chernetsov, Sevir
Periodical:St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Ge'ez language
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Abstract:In Ethiopia there exists a diversity of writings, from Bible apocrypha to various charms and spells, which occupy an intermediary place between literature and magic folklore and which may be said to constitute magic literature. A number of features characterize these works: a functional one, in that they all serve as protective amulets which are efficacious by their mere presence; a formal one, in that they are all written in Ge'ez, and that the name of an owner must be mentioned in the text itself if a written amulet is to be effective; and a structural one, in that the epic element of every written spell consists of a limited number of magic subjects of local or foreign origin, as well as of some Biblical episodes and apocryphal stories. Works of Ethiopian magic literature are traditionally preserved and transmitted simply by rewriting them when only the name of the owner changes. This is characteristic of literary pieces and sets this type of spell off from oral ones. The article was first published in Russian in 1972. Bibliogr.