Syriac Paleography: Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Manuscripts
Section 1: Objectives and Introduction
- to serve as a reminder that Syriac manuscripts have continued to be copied up to the present (see further)
- to show the kinds of supports and writing instruments used in these more recent manuscripts
- to offer samples of the continued use of the scripts we have looked at so far
For № 3, there is really nothing unexpected in terms of letter shapes. Estrangela is generally used, if at all, for decorative purposes or titles (much as Blackletter or Fraktur typefaces may be used in English-language newspaper names, for example), but both Serto and East Syriac have continued in regular use throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. While the kinds of supports (such as a composition book or datebook) and writing instruments (pencil, ballpoint pen) may seemingly be more pedestrian than for earlier manuscripts and thus confer upon these modern manuscripts less gravitas, there is not really a new ductus in letter-forms. These manuscripts often appear less carefully executed than at least some earlier copies (some of them are actually drafts for works intended to be printed). Even in earlier periods, scribes who knew how to write, but not necessarily how to write well, nonetheless produced manuscripts.
In what follows, sample pages are thus offered with no comment on the forms of the letters, but a few remarks highlight supports and writing implements.