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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, 18th cent. CE
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
Organic material, wood
Length:
128 cm;
Width:
55 cm
Hall:
Byzantine Antiquities


Description

A four-legged wooden book-stand about 128 cm in height, on which the Bible and other liturgical books are placed for reading. The middle part could be easily adjusted according to the height of the reader. The lower part is customarily used as a storage container for books and musical instruments employed in the services, such as cymbals and triangles.

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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