A variation on Estrangela that becomes typical of West Syriac tradition manuscripts.
As noted in the Estrangela lessons, for some letters there is little or no distinction between Estrangela and Serto, even in early Estrangela manuscripts. Some of the early Serto manuscripts here exhibit some mixtures of Estrangela and Serto forms. By the thirteenth century, however, we reach a relatively stable ensemble of standard Serto shapes.
The letters bēt, gāmal, ṭēt (rounded at the bottom, but still angled at the top), mim, and qop are round in typical Serto, where their Estrangela (and, except for mim, East Syriac) counterparts are angular.
In addition, the following typical Serto letterforms may be singled out:
essentially a vertical line, but at word-end the top often tends to the right, except when following lāmad, when it is either straight or angling in the opposite direction
round at the bottom, not pointed as in Estrangela; often hangs very low
dālat / rēš
a curved, comma-like shape that may or may not hang a little below the baseline
a vertical on the right may join the loop from the top of that line (as in East Syriac), or lower down
final form with two parallel left-sloping lines
a closed loop sitting low on the line
when joined to previous letter, a triangular shape with a curved line at the bottom, the triangle not closed; when not joined to previous letter, it is a similar shape, but without the right leg of that triangle
Example 1 - 8th through 10th-century manuscripts
Mardin, CFMM 310, p. 62 (8th C.)
Mardin, Church of the Forty Martyrs, CFMM 310, p. 62. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
roughly rectangular, but sometimes relatively smooth at the corners
dālat / rēš
do not hang much below the line
completely round, and closed
only loosely angular (but more so when final)
taller left loop than right
very little activity at the baseline, merely two small blips the descender is a wide, smooth curve down and to the left
like mim, is only loosely angular
Mardin, CFMM 356, pp. 166-167 (9th/10th C.)
John of Dara
Mardin, Church of the Forty Martyrs, CFMM 356, pp. 166-167. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
appears as both the line type, as usual in Serto, and the Estrangela type (esp. at line end, but even there the line type may be found)
angled, as in Estrangela, not round
angled, as in Estrangela, not round
dālat / rēš
the typical Serto shapes
sometimes with a round lower part, sometimes sharper, but with rounded corners
final form with the descender angling to the right
final form with the second leg thinner and shorter than the first
is sometimes perfectly round, other times not quite round, but not especially sharp either
Example 2 - 12th/13th-century manuscripts
Mardin, CFMM 130, p. 3 (12th/13th C.)
Jacob of Serugh, Memre
Mardin, Church of the Forty Martyrs, CFMM 130, p. 3. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
dālat and rēš
hang slightly below the line
has the connecting line between the vertical and the loop just below the top of the vertical
for final form, the second line with a small curve at the top
This manuscript shows what might be considered a classic Serto hand. There are none of the sharper curves akin to Estrangela that may appear in earlier Serto manuscripts, and the characteristic roundness of bēt, gāmal (hanging very low), ṭēt, mim, and qop make this an exemplary Serto manuscript.
N.b. that in the combination ālap-lāmad, the ālap is not separate from the lāmad at the bottom.
Jerusalem, SMMJ 60, ff. 6v-7r (dated 1209/10)
Severus of Antioch, Hymns
Jerusalem, St. Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 60, ff. 6v-7r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
only in the straight line type, not in the Estrangela form
angled and pointed, as in Estrangela
bottom part rounded, not pointed, but not in a circular shape
Diyarbakir, DIYR 341, ff. 4v-5r (dated 1214)
Diyarbakir, Meryem Ana Syriac Orthodox Church, DIYR 341, ff. 4v-5r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
again, not in the Estrangela form
Diyarbakir, DIYR 343, ff. 3v-4r (dated 1226/27)
Diyarbakir, Meryem Ana Syriac Orthodox Church, DIYR 343, ff. 3v-4r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
Sometimes when ālap is found at the end of a word, it is leaning backward to the right.
Example 3 - 15th-century manuscripts
Jerusalem, SMMJ 11, ff. 4v-5r (dated 1402/03)
Jerusalem, St. Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 11, ff. 4v-5r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
This script shows conspicuously thick lines. There are no deviations from typical Serto.
Jerusalem, SMMJ 38, ff. 5v-6r (dated 1477)
Jerusalem, St. Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 38, ff. 5v-6r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
In contrast to the previous manuscript, the lines here are thinner. Again the script here is typical Serto, including a long gāmal.
Mardin, CFMM 420, p. 6 (dated 1474)
Mardin, Church of the Forty Martyrs, CFMM 420, p. 6. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
in final form, the bottom line curving upward
very tall, reaching higher than ṭēt and tāw
in final form very thin
This manuscript contains an elegant Serto script with decorations extending into the margins. Note the lāmad-ṭēt ligature across a word boundary in line 5.
Diyarbakir, DIYR 2, f. 64r (dated 1496)
Book of Judges
Diyarbakir, Meryem Ana Syriac Orthodox Church, DIYR 2, f. 64r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
in final form has the bottom line curving upward, and similarly the final yod and šin
in unattached final form, its typical descender with the top reaching very high
ligature across word boundary in col. d, 13 lines from the bottom an example of a flourish at the top of the page is in col. c a very long lāmad crossing two ālaps, one across a word boundary
This manuscript is especially notable for its large size (sixty-nine lines per page) and use of four columns, a rare mise en page for Syriac manuscripts.
Mardin, CFMM 366, p. 152 (dated 1473)
Cause of All Causes
Mardin, Church of the Forty Martyrs, CFMM 366, p. 152. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
Note following features:
the semkat-ṭēt ligature in col. a, line 4, and the similar mim-ṭēt ligature in the last line of that column
the abbreviated part of the word written in the margin in col. b, line 5 (but not in the previous line)
final lāmad-ālap ligature, across a word boundary, in col. b, line 16
a word correction in col. b, line 17
Example 4 - 16th-century manuscripts
Jerusalem, SMMJ 62, ff. 4v-5r (1569)
Jerusalem, St. Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 62, ff. 4v-5r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
Like SMMJ 11, this script is made of thick, clear lines. As far as the letter-shapes go, there is nothing out of the ordinary for Serto here.
Jerusalem, SMMJ 219, ff. 91v-92r (dated 1788/89)
Jerusalem, St. Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 219, ff. 91v-92r. All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.
in initial position may be very curvy with the top angling back to the right
often higher on the left than the right
This later manuscript, complete with several marginal notes, is similar in appearance to later, even modern manuscripts . This is due to the kind of ink used, less rich than that found in earlier times, and the kind of paper. The scribe has included very many (West Syriac) vowels.
Tall letters that have a single vertical line (ālap, unattached ṭēt, lāmad, unattached tāw) are often hooked at the top. In addition, note the following: