“Hmayil” Armenian Prayer Scroll, Number Two


Hmayils (phylacteries, or prayer scrolls) in the form of highly decorated and illuminated scrolls came into use in Armenia in the 17th century. These manuscripts contained sermons, magical formulas, and prayers to avoid all kinds of dangers—especially to ward off dews (demons). Printed editions, such as this example, were devoted to prayers, Gospel readings, and sermons. Designed for domestic use and for travel, the hmayil format remained in use until the 19th century. This example from the collections of the Library of Congress contains intricate hand-colored engravings. It received extensive conservation treatment at the Library of Congress and was restored almost to its original state.

Last updated: October 30, 2017