Clemens-Tobias Lange

Mechachal : Shewa Ber

Clemens-Tobias Lange

Mechachal : Shewa Ber



Edition Size



Etching, Letterpress


Cloth case, Coptic


Artist Book


14.75 × 8.75 × 2 in


CTL Presse

$ 5,800.00


View Collectors

Boston Athenaeum

College of Saint Benedict & Saint John's University

Grinnell College

Herzog August Bibiothek

Lafayette College

Northwestern University

The University of Chicago Library

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

English translation: “Mixing: East Door”
Winner of the 2012 Antiquarian Prize for Book Culture of the State of Ludwigsburg and the City of Stuttgart.
Edition of 25 signed and numbered copies + VII  e.a. copies.
Coptic binding with bamboo panels wrapped in cloth: Clemens-Tobias Lange
Drop-back box: Julia Büttelmann
Illustrator/Photographer: Clemens-Tobias Lange (all photographs are from the market in Harar, Ethiopia)
Author:  Holy Bible, Holy Qur’an, and prayers, ancient Persian prayer, Jewish prayer and prayer by Saint Francesco of Assisi
Other collaborators: Marshet Enedeshaw, textile research in Harar; Beza Lange, assistant, CTL-Presse           
Started concept: July 2009, finished: June 2011
Font(s)/type used: Futura for latin alphabet, Abyssinia SIL for amharic text and HQ PB 1, -2, -3, -4, -5 and Arabeyes Quranic for Arabic letters and alphabet, further Amharic Ge’ez and Arabic handwriting on the images.
Paper(s) used: BFK Rives 210g  for textpages, Japanese ganpi 19g and ganpi cotton paper for “Chine Collé.”
Textiles were bought from markets in Africa, Harar, and Cotonou.
Number and colors of printed ink used for text: 1 black, for images, different transparent mixed black and brown tones.
Printing process notes: “Chine collé,” intaglio and letterpress printing
Contents: p. 5 f. from an ancient Persian prayer; p. 78 Jewish prayer by Nechum Bronze; p. 81 Saint Francesco of Assisi, Lodi di Dio Altissimo, from «The Oxford Book of Prayer», Oxford University Press 1985.
Excerpts of the Holy Bible in Amharic and German language in the translation of Martin Luther beginning at p. 8 with: Mark 4:30 – 4:32, Matthew 17:20 and 21:22, 1. Corinthians 12:6 – 12:11, and 13:2 – 13:7, 1. John 4:18, 4:17, 4:16, and Mark 12:33.
Excerpts of the Holy Qur’an in Arabic language beginning at p. 15 with: Sura  37:76 – 37:80, 37:123 – 37:131, 37:114 – 37:120, 36:53 – 36:58, 97, 37:180 – 37:182, 37:102 – 37:110 and 10:09/10
Download a colophon at:

Selected Collections:
Herzog August Bibliothek, Wofenbuttel, Germany
Lafayette College, PA
Saint John’s University; College of Saint Benedict, MN
University of California at Los Angeles, Library (UCLA), CA
The University of Chicago Library, IL
The Boston Athenaeum, MA

Artist’s statement:
Visiting Ethiopia I was impressed by the peaceful coexistence of a religious population, half-Christian, half-Muslim, a situation contrary to what Western journalism seems to want us to believe – the positive power of faith and the need of understanding. This inspired the concept of the Mechachal : Shewa Ber book.

The term “Mechachal” is used often in the East Ethiopian city of Harar, in schools, churches, mosques and in the street. Its meaning refers to relationships with couples and between complementary cultures: “Respect each other, accept each other with love”. In a country with more than 50 ethnicities and a half-Christian, half-Muslim culture – lots of people marry into another religion – this ‘ Mechachal’ is a key for a peaceful life.

The second part of the title of the book is “Shewa Ber”. The Shewa Ber is the name of the market in Harar, in former times the largest market of East Africa.  Shewa Ber not only has goods and multiple colours mixing, it is the place where all the different people meet every day, with all their languages, religions and habits and some goats and chicken in the middle.

The different cultures that have to get along with each other give the form to the book and its contents.

Differing pairs of textiles come together in every image-page, pairs of cultures bump into each other in the images: photographs taken in the marketplace and of the beautiful Qu’ran editions that were written more than 1000 years ago in the city of Harar. Textile pages face pages made of paper, alphabets, languages and religions meet on each sheet, too. You may not be able to understand all the written texts, because I used English, Amharic, Arab, German and Italian language – we never understand every language, especially the non-written ones.

The “Coptic” type of binding used for the book originates in Ethiopia: is was used in the early editions of Orthodox Christian bibles in North-east Africa from where it gets is name. The binding emphasizes the combination of materials used in the book and gives the book a sculptural presence.

Ethiopia has no poetry festival, like Colombia, Italy, Japan… On the other hand people read the Bible and the Qu’ran regularly and use it for surviving the hardship of the everyday life. This is the reason I include texts of the Holy Bible and the Holy Qu’ran in the book, and three prayers from three other religions: ancient Persian, Judaic and Catholic. The text of the Bible is printed in Amharic language which has its own unique alphabet, which is the considered to be one of the alphabets with the oldest roots still used in the world.

With the help of the Argentinian writer Alberto Manguel I have found eight Suras of the Qu’ran which contain the word “salam”, commonly translated as “peace”. In each of the times used in the Qu’ran there is another meaning for “salam”:

Sure 37:79 :  SALAM  = harmony
Sure  37:130 :  SALAM   = modesty
Sure  37:120 :  SALAM  = patience
Sure 36:58  :  SALAM  = umility
Sure  97:5   :  SALAM  = faith
Sure 37:181 :  SALAM  = hope
Sure 37:109 : SALAM = charity
Sure 10:10 :  SALAM = peace                          

— Clemens-Tobias Lange