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Lecture by Sylvie Merian at New York Academy of Medicine Library

March 15, 2010

The New York Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers and the New York Academy of Medicine’s Rare Book Room and Historical Collections are co-sponsoring a lecture by Sylvie Merian of the Morgan Library & Museum on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. This lecture is open to all interested parties:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 * 6:00PM – 8:30PM
Protection Against the Evil Eye? Votive Offerings on Armenian Manuscript Bindings

Location: The New York Academy of Medicine Library
1216 Fifth Avenue and 103rd St.
NYAM Library Reading Room, 3rd floor

Speaker: Sylvie L. Merian, Ph.D., Morgan Library and Museum
This event sponsored by: The Guild of Book Workers, New York Chapter and The New York Academy of Medicine Library Historical Collections

Sylvie Merian will explore an unusual type of metal decoration found on a number of Armenian manuscript bindings. These bindings were embellished with odd objects haphazardly attached onto the covers, and sometimes even onto the spine and flap. The items may include coins, crosses, crucifixes, seal stones from personal signet rings, metal belts, jewelry, and small metal repousse objects shaped liked hands, eyes, crescent moons, or human faces. Some of these objects were clearly donated by the faithful as memorials to themselves and their families to express their Christian piety. Others surely functioned as ex-votos. However, this does not fully explain their entire purpose. In view of the ubiquitous belief in evil forces, the evil eye, and malevolent spirits in the Near East, Merian will discuss the use of these objects as apotropaic devices to avert evil, thereby protecting not only the donor but also the religious manuscript itself.

Sylvie L. Merian received her Ph.D. in Armenian Studies from Columbia University’s Department of Middle East Languages and Cultures in 1993, writing her dissertation on Armenian bookbinding. She has published and lectured on Armenian codicology, bookbinding, and manuscript illumination, as well as on the history of the book. She currently works as Reader Services Librarian at the Morgan Library & Museum.

To register, please call Erin Albritton at 212-822-7364 or email ealbritton@nyam.org
Suggested donation of $5.00 will be collected at the door.

Arlene Shaner
Assistant Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Tel: 212-822-7313
Fax: 212-423-0273
Email: ashaner@nyam.org

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