Sacred Texts: Codices Far, Far Away – Episode 11, W.836 binding

On October 8, 2018, Dr. Brandon Hawk and curator Dot Porter met to talk about these ancient books, and to compare them with manuscripts from the collection of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania. This series is a record of those discussions.

Walters Art Museum W.836: A broken binding

In this video we compare the bindings of the Jedi texts with that of Walters Art Museum W.836. W.836 is an early 14th century Ethiopian Gospel book from Tǝgray, Northern Ethiopia. The covers of this book are simple wooden boards, but at some point the front cover broke into two pieces, and someone fixed it by sewing the pieces together. Composite bindings – covers made from multiple pieces of hard material attached together – are a notable aspect of the Jedi texts, although it is a very unusual practice on earth.

Online record and digital images of W.836:

Phil Szostak, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (

Images of the “Tree Library” by Seth Engstrom & Rodolfo Damaggio

Mock-ups for six pages from the Jedi books by Chris Kitisakkul

Screenshots from the film and images from The Art of Star Wars are used under the Fair Use doctrine described in Section 107 of the Copyright Act (

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