Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Coptic/Ethiopian Mequtaria

I've been working on making some Coptic/Ethiopian prayer ropes known as the "mequtaria." While working on these ropes I've picked up some very interesting tidbits. Typically the mequtaria is made of either 41, 64, or 100 knots or beads - supposedly it is now more common to find beaded mequtarias than knotted ones. The 41 knots are supposed to represent the 39 lashes our Lord received at his scourging, along with the crown of thorns. The 64 knots represent the years of the Theotokos' life before her Dormition. 100 knots, on the other hand, just seems to be a standard division.

It is said that St. Pachomius, who received the "Angelic Knot" used to tie prayer ropes from the Angel Gabriel, was an Egyptian/Coptic monk. As such the prayer rope can be considered a Coptic tradition that was adopted into the Byzantine tradition. This would not be surprising to me since the Byzantine tradition was initially a synthesis of a number of other traditions. The 100 knot mequtaria, therefore, could be considered an authentic Coptic tradition for praying the "Prayer Rule of St. Pachomius."

There seems to be two traditions on the use of the mequtaria. The Coptic tradition maintains close ties between the Liturgy and the mequtaria. Typically they prefer the 41 knot/bead mequtaria for the 41 "Kyrie Eleisons" recited at the celebration of the Hours (Agpeya). The Ethiopian tradition, on the other hand, has developed an entire prayer rule for the mequtaria. This prayer rule is quite lengthy, but contains some of the most beautiful prayers I have ever seen from either the Eastern or Western traditions.

I will post the Ethiopian prayer rule later. Also, I have some pictures of mequtarias that I've made forthcoming. I need to make a 64 knot one before I post those pictures though. :)

Peace and blessings to you all.


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