Item MS 01 - The Psalms of David Codex

Open original Digital object

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

The Psalms of David Codex

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

Parallel title

Other title information

Ethiopian Psalter

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code

Coll. 12-MS 01

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1801 - 1960 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

I + 142 folios. 183 x 130 x 65 mm

1 column, 25 of lines. sheepskin parchment codex. Written in black and red ink. 10 miniatures. No case. Wooden boards with stamped red leather, stitched with bound spine, two-colour endband, text pricks.

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Custodial history

The Psalms of David codex came from the Lake Tsana Island Monastery in Ethiopia. Robert N. Thompson acquired the codex during his time in Ethiopia from the 1940s into the 1950s. In 1983, Thompson donated textual material to TWU Archives and over the course of the next decade additional materials including the Ethiopian codices were transferred to the care of the Archives.

Scope and content

This is a complete Ethiopian Psalter codex and contains 151 Psalms of David, hence the codex's name, as well as 15 biblical canticles, the Song of Songs, and two Ethiopian Orthodox works known as The Praises of Mary and The Gate of Light. The codex is comprised of 142 folios bound into twelve quires with 10 illuminations. On folio 128r there is a decorative border to introduce a new book in two columns in the manuscript.

There are 10 illustrations, see description below.
-Illustration: Fol. 2v: Miniature of the Virgin Mary holding child Christ who is holding a book held in the left hand. Archangels Gabriel and Michael float above in the top left and right corners. Painted with black border. Water damage on the top left corner down the left side.
-Illustration: Fol. 39r: Miniature of a bearded older noble male wearing a crown and holding a book in their left hand and a sceptre in the right hand. Painted with black border.
-Illustration: Fol. 40v: Miniature of Jesus Christ holding the globus cruciger (cross-bearing orb) in the left hand. Painted with black border.
-Illustration: Fol. 60r: Miniature of three identical older male saints with white hair seated holding the globus cruciger (cross-bearing orb) in their left hands. Painted with black border.
-Illustration: Fol. 61v: Miniature of crucified Jesus Christ. Painted with black border.
-Illustration: Fol. 120r: Miniature of the Virgin Mary praying. Painted with black border. Water damage along the top right edge and down the side.
-Illustration: Fol. 121v: Miniature of King David playing the lyre. Painted with black border. Water damage along the top left edge and down the side.
-Illustration: Fol. 130r: Miniature of an unidentified saint holding flowers. Painted with black border.
-Illustration: Fol. 131v: Miniature of an clergy older man holding a staff in his left hand and a gold cross in his right hand. Painted with black border.
-Illustration: Fol. 141r: Miniature of the Virgin Mary holding child Jesus. Painted with black border.

Notes area

Physical condition

The codex has water damage throughout the manuscript. There are fourteen holes in the parchment located on folios: 33r, 36r, 42r, 43r, 50r, 59r, 66r, 67r, 69r, 72r, 95r, 105r, 107r, and 127r. In addition, there are nine stitched tears located on folios: 41r, 46r, 47r, 59r, 79r, 80r, 85r, 90r, 98r. The largest stitched tear measures 7 cm in length located on folio 98r diagonally across text located in the bottom right.

Immediate source of acquisition

Robert N. Thompson


Language of material

Script of material

Language and script note

Ge'ez, the traditional liturgical language of the the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

A digital copy can be found on the Vivarium website under the identifier "Trinity Western University Codex 1", see

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

The Ethiopian manuscripts published in digitised format by the Ethiopian Manuscript Imaging Project are to the best of our knowledge not in copyright under Ethiopian law. However TWU Archives and Special Collections recognises broader interests in the cultural heritage which the Ethiopian manuscripts represent. The manuscripts included are often of a religious nature, and the Archives have taken considerable care not to distort or alter the underlying material. We ask users also to show appropriate respect in reusing the digital images of the Ethiopian manuscripts, which should not be altered or reused in ways that might be derogatory or offensive to the Ethiopian communities for whom they are of special cultural importance.

Preferred Citation: Trinity Western Archives and Special Collections. Ethiopian Manuscripts Collection, Coll. 12-MS 01, Psalms of David Codex, 1801-1960.

Finding aids

Associated materials

Related materials


General note

To access the digital copy of the codex from TWU Archives and Special Collections database, click on the codex image to open the PDF document.

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

July 2020, tk

Language of description

Script of description


Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres

Physical storage

  • Box: MS-01