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Bible stand (Lectern)

Bible stand (Lectern)
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 0893

Inv.Inventory
 (Coptic Museum) 704

where to find


Byzantine Antiquities

Bible stand (Lectern)

Category:
Religious / Cult objects, lecterns (bible supports)
Date:
Byzantine Period, 1592 CE
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
Organic material, wood
Length:
128 cm;
Width:
55 cm
Hall:
Byzantine Antiquities


Description

This lectern is composed of three parts. The upper part is for placing the bible during reading, and it is decorated with cross forms and geometrical circles. The middle part holds the upper part and is a spiral column made of wood to facilitate the process of raising or lowering the lectern to suit the level of the reader. The lower part is customarily used as a storage place for books and musical instruments employed in the services, such as cymbals and triangles. It is squared with a door that is decorated with Arabic calligraphy and geometrical circles and stars. The written text states that the lectern “Estate in the name of Saint Mina from Saint Mercurius  chapel in Akhmim”. On all four sides of the storage place, an Arabic text that reads: ”Repay them O Lord, thirty fold, sixty fold and a hundred fold, and the forgiveness of their sins in the Kingdom of Heaven, 1308“ (Era of Martyrs, 1592 CE).

Lecterns

Lecterns are often adorned with geometric designs and sometimes inlaid with ivory carvings. The upper part is often in the form of an eagle with outstretched wings.
The finest example is to be found in the old Cathedral of Saint Mark at the district of al-Azbakiyyah in Cairo. It had earlier belonged to al-Mu'allaqah Church in Old Cairo and may date to the tenth or eleventh century. A covering of silk or some rich material is sometimes placed on the manjaliyyah  in such a way that it covers the sloping desk and hangs halfway down the front.
Two lecterns always stand in the choir area before the Haykal (sanctuary) door. The one at the north side faces east and is used for singing the lessons in Coptic. The other lectern, at the south side faces east and is used for reading the lessons in Arabic. Occasionally, there is only one lectern, but the book-rest in this case is usually double and revolves on a central column. The north side of the choir is considered the proper place for a single lectern.
To the left of the person reading, at each lectern, usually stands a tall candelabrum on which the censer is hung when not in use.
The principal purpose of the lectern is to support the books of the biblical liturgical lessons, that is, the lectionaries for the whole year, for Lent, and for Holy Week. It is also used for reading the Apocalypse (on Holy Saturday), the Synaxarion , the Homilies, the Psalmodia, and biblical lessons in other priestly offices such as matrimonial or burial services.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • "Lectern". In: The Coptic Encyclopedia. Edited by: Atiya, Aziz S. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1991.
  • Ross, M. C. et al. Catalogue of the Byzantine and early mediaeval antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks collection. Washington: Dumbarton, 1962.
  • Strzygowski, Josef.  Koptische Kunst. Vienne: Imprimerie Adolf Holzhausen, 1904.
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