Seminar at Addis Ababa University
Gädlä Lalibäla : tradition and documentation, work in progress
by Nafisa Valieva (PhD Candidate, Center for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Universität Hamburg, Germany)
Friday, November 24, 2017, 9-11 AM
Addis Ababa University, at 6 Kilo OSR Room 119
Tradition and significance of the Gädlä Lalibäla
by Nafisa Valieva
The aim of this project is to investigate the tradition and the significance of the hagiographic celebration of King Lalibäla, as well as preparing a critical edition of the Gädlä Lalibäla (GL) ‘(Spiritual) Combat (or Vita) of Lalibäla’ and his miracles. The GL is the main source about the life and deeds of King Lalibäla. King Lalibäla is considered a saint along with other kings of the so-called Zagwe dynasty, who ruled in the twelfth-thirteenth century ce, who is given credit for the construction of the renowned rock-hewn churches in the city of Lalibäla, named after the king. The term Gädl, lit. ‘Combat’, defines a text written according to the hagiographic genre, which, with its own rules and conventions, reveals at the same time the author’s own ideas. Therefore, hagiographical texts are excellent witnesses to the history of thoughts, mentality, and practices. The only scholarly yet partial edition of this text was carried out by the French philologist Jules Perruchon in 1892. This incomplete basis has been misleading researchers. The working hypothesis is that the GL results from merging two originally independent texts – as it appears in some manuscripts – with distinctly marked ideological approaches, which were eventually transmitted as one text. Such merged redaction is already attested in the oldest known manuscript dating back to the fifteenth century. The first text, containing only the Gädl, presents us Lalibäla as a legitimate king of Ethiopia, whereas the second text, the ‘Miracles of King Gäbrä Mäsqal’ (throne name of Lalibäla) introduces him as an illegitimate ruler, not to say as an usurper. To date the writing of all these texts, to find out the aim of the writing, to reconstruct the way of their transmitting, to find their place in the liturgical practice are further challenging tasks of the research.
Mrs. Nafisa Valieva is a PhD Candidate at Hamburg University under the supervision of prof. Marie-Laure Derat and prof. Alessandro Bausi.