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Article

An Old Amharic poem from northern Ethiopia: one more text on condemning glory

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 2019. Vol. 82. No. 2. P. 315-350.
Bulakh M., Nosnitsin D.

This contribution offers to the readers a publication and translation (with linguistic and philological commentaries) of a recently discovered piece of Old Amharic poetry, possibly dating to the first half/middle of the 17th century. The published text bears the title Märgämä kəbr (“Condemnation of glory”), but its content differs from that of several other Old Amharic poems (not entirely independent from each other) known under the same title. It is only the general idea and the main topics that are shared by all Märgämä kəbr poems: transience of the earthly world, the inevitability of death and of God’s judgement, and the necessity of leading virtuous life.

One can thus speak of Märgämä kəbr as a special genre of early Amharic literature, probably originally belonging to the domain of oral literature and used to address the Christian community with the aim of religious education and admonition of the laymen.