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The Salaberga Psalter and the Ethiopian Face: the first depiction of an African in Pre-Conquest England


The Salaberga Psalter was sold to Berlin as a part of the collection of manuscripts owned by the Duke of Hamilton. It is the most important insular manuscript copied before 800 not to have been studied. It has a Creed, the Psalms and canticles in the Roman version It has large illuminated initials for each of the psalms and canticles, and it opens with nine lines of display capitals filled with alternating yellow and blue-green wash. Many of the initials end in one or more birdlike heads with a prominent beak, one depicts a lion biting a serpent, and one shows a human face. This paper will focus on the Creed, and offer an explanation of why the Psalter has an Ethiopian face.

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