“Hmayil” Armenian Prayer Scroll, Number One


Hmayils (phylacteries, or prayer scrolls) in the form of highly decorated and illuminated scrolls came into use in the Armenian Church the 17th century. The 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. The intricate engravings are hand colored. Designed for domestic use and for travel, the hmayil format remained in use until the 19th century. This example, dating from around 1725, received extensive conservation treatment at the Library of Congress and has been restored almost to its original state.

Last updated: October 30, 2017