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Film, Video Morphing Magi: An Armenian Menologium in Context

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  • Morphing Magi: An Armenian Menologium in Context


  • Between June 1 and July 15, 2022, the African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) hosted seven renowned scholars in the AMED Reading Room, each for a two-week research residency. During their residencies, the scholars used the Library's collection to conduct in-depth research in religious studies in the division's responsible geographic areas. These topics range from food cultures and art in religion, religious beliefs in the context of slavery and colonialism, and comparisons of religious minorities, to religious freedom in constitutional systems. These presentations feature finding from the scholar's research residencies.

    The residencies and symposium are part of the Exploring Challenging Conversations project generously funded by a planning grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. for the purpose of enhancing public awareness of cross-regional and intercultural religious understanding in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and their global diaspora.

    The Library of Congress (LOC) Lectionary (Call no. BX 127.A2 A7 1600z; MS Orien Nr. East 6004) is one of the gems of the LOC Collection of Armenian Rarities. The partial manuscript, consisting of six large folios with sumptuous illuminations, dates to the seventeenth century. The incipit pages and marginal illustrations replicate earlier medieval Armenian styles, while the two full-page illuminations of the Adoration of the Magi and the Resurrection incorporate early modern motifs, drawing upon images circulating in European prints. Of particular interest is the inclusion of a magus with a crowned turban, a rarity in Armenian illuminations. In earlier periods, a variety of headgear ranging from Crusader crowns to red fezzes was used in representations of the three kings. However, the use of a crowned turban finds echoes in images across Europe and the Mediterranean around the seventeenth century, where the motif is often used to signify an Ottoman ruler. The turbaned magus may also be a subtle reference to seventeenth-century European depictions of the magi, which employed North African models for Balthasar. Following a brief discussion of the manuscript as a whole, this presentation will focus on the Adoration of the Magi illumination, situating this image among the changing depictions of magi in medieval Armenian manuscripts, and conclude with the implications of the choice of clothing and complexion in the Library of Congress lectionary.

Event Date

  • August 15, 2022

Running Time

  • 31 minutes 56 seconds

Online Format

  • video
  • image
  • online text

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Credit Line: Library of Congress

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Chicago citation style:

Morphing Magi: An Armenian Menologium in Context. 2022. Video.

APA citation style:

(2022) Morphing Magi: An Armenian Menologium in Context. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Morphing Magi: An Armenian Menologium in Context. 2022. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.