exposed sewing

Mystery Book

Mystery Book 1

A friend of mine happened upon this little book some time ago. It’s about four inches high and just over an inch thick. It seems like it might be old, but maybe just a bit old. I don’t know. It’s housed in this sweet leather envelope. At least I think it’s leather. This is outside of my expertise. The sewing has the feeling of being old-fashioned gut thread, but, again, this is not something that I generally work with.

Mystery Book 2

The sewing on the cover piece has great personality. See the tiny little stitches on the bottom. I would say that the pages were sewn again the grain, as they are quite wavy, but they are stiff, so I am thinking that they are parchment or vellum?


I don’t recognize this writing at all. Seems like there’s some Greek letters here?


Some pages have a bit of red writing. There are some badly water damaged pages, too, where the writing has bled and smeared.

Mystery Book 5

The sewing is a link stitch. That much I know.


The covers are attached with a stitch through the wooden covers. I don’t know what kind of wood this is, but I suspect that a person who knows their woods would be able to identify this.  So, how about it? Anyone out there have any ideas on what to make of this little gem? I would be very interested in comments or musings, and I would be especially interested in knowing if the writing is just whimsical shapes, or if they are a recognizable language.

In snow again

In the meantime, my sun chair remains buried, nestled into yesterday’s fresh snow. It was 14 degrees Farenheit when I looked at the temp this morning. My daughter had the day off from school again, and I knocked myself out liberating my car from the icy mound that hid it. Before long we’ll all be up to our knees in mud, then it will be too warm. Oh well….hard to believe that just two days ago it was 60 degrees and absolutely glorious, one of the perfect days of the year.  I suppose they are all perfect days…after all, the snow storms keep my little family close to home.

11 thoughts on “Mystery Book

      1. I had thought that it might be a prayer book. And, yes, those shapes look just like what’s in the book. What lovely letter forms! It’s really great to know what the book it. Love crowdsourcing!!!!


      2. Now, using your info, I’m searching around. Here’s a close relative to the book in my post.. He calls it an Orthodox Prayer Book in Ge’ez, an ancient language of the Church.
        And here’s another, from the Walters Museum, in much better shape than the one that I photoed.
        The sewing on the covers of the two books look exactly the same.
        What fun! thanks so much for your sleithing!


  1. It is an Ethiopian manuscript meant to be worn as a charm (see a leather-covered example here: It is most likely written in Ge’ez (ancient Ethiopic) which is the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Amharic is the modern language of Ethiopia. It isn’t Coptic (a related, but different branch of Christianity). There are a number of African woods that the cover could be made from. It is hard to tell. The sewing materials looks to be animal-based, so, sinew, gut, or twisted parchment.

    Many more examples of Ethiopian manuscripts here:


  2. what a surprise ! I have a similar book between my hands. it was founded in North of Saudi Arabia. the book I have contains of 200 pages. it’s made of animal skin “dear” I believe so.


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