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My mother taught us to ward off the Evil Eye by spitting. 💦

According to this #Syriac #manuscript (Or 6673) there are more hygienic ways of eliminating it, and a host of other ailments, misfortunes and generic evils. Let’s see what they are!

(Props to the Evangelists)

Let’s cut the gentle humour for... one tweet. This #manuscript was copied at the end of the 19th century by Church of the East believers in northern #Iraq. It’s part of a long tradition of prayer and medicine in the region, and it relies on a number of different belief systems.
Ok, first up is fear. St. George was not afraid when he slew the #dragon (also identified here as a Great #Monster), so why should you be? Offer him a prayer to allay distress and fears.

Next is dealing with authority, however that might be defined. The text of the prayer for good dealings with the Man is accompanied by this #illustration of a smoking ruler (ܫܘܠܛܢܐ) on a throne, as well as a #falcon, #sword and a #gun, all symbols of temporal power.
A bit of a break from the specific to go back to a general cure-all: the Ring or Seal of Solomon. Not every prayer or invocation was illustrated, so it’s no surprise that some texts are accompanied by more abstract imagery.
Back now to something that makes it clear these were practical #prayers for practical people: prayers for the binding of #weapons. These include a #sword, a bow and #arrow, a mace and axes. These invocations tell us about belief, but they also give us clues to material culture.
After the weapons comes Mar Zay’a of #Palestine who slays the #Angel of Death. Zay’a migrated from Palestine to #Syria, which is how he came to be part of this belief system. He’s one of many mounted saviors throughout the manuscript. He protects against plague and pestilence.
Are you a bit mad? Not to fear, as Mar Tamsis slaying a female moon spirit will help protect against lunacy. The #illustration is fascinating, but so too is the conceptualization of mental health and illness, which was evidently linked to the moon (and, to a degree, misogyny).
Obviously: protect your #animals. These are prayers to help keep your domestic animals healthy and plentiful, and also to make sure that #foxes, #gazelles, #deer and others find their way into your crosshairs. For societies that are largely agricultural, this is a key concern.
On a related note, invocations to keep your #guns in good working order, and to straighten your aim. I find both the use of modern terminology (tufe, ܬܘܦܐ) and the way they look like rifles (rather than other guns) to be super interesting.

Finally, it’s the #EvilEye! It’s called exactly that (ܥܝܢܐ ܒܝܫܐ) in this text. This requires the big guns, so you need to pray to Archangel Gabriel, who is here mounted on a white steed and slaying some sort of demon with a spear.
What to do with a mad #dog (or lion)? Call on Hormizd to help you out. I think this is another fascinating peek into some of the primary fears and dangers of life in northern Iraq in the 19th century.
From mad dogs to #wolves, bears and lions trying to eat your sheep: here’s a prayer to protect them. It is the prophet Daniel on whom you should call; we see him here slaying a wolf not all that dissimilar in appearance from Wile E. Coyote.
Then we have a slew of #prayers to protect from the various creatures who plague anyone walking on a dark night: #snakes and #scorpions. There’s no word on whether these work for snakes on a plane. You’ll have to contact Samuel L. Jackson.
A bit of cross over from Jewish lore - here is King Solomon killing Asmodeus with a spear. The prayers here are again for general upkeep and good health, and I love that Solomon’s #horse is green.
Our last two #illustrations : Mar Shalita slaying an #evil spirit, and Enoch and Elias, to whom prayers will ensure a bountiful harvest.
These are all some of the amazing illustrations in Or 6673. I’m indebted to Ewa Balicka-Witakowska for her insightful scholarship on the meaning of them and of the work as a whole. The manuscript will soon be digitised and available online for all to peruse and enjoy!
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