Sidi-Mäsqäl, (perhaps fl. c. early 13th century A.D.), was the principal architect and engineer of the rock churches of Lalibäla according to some sources. He may have been an Egyptian Christian refugee who had sought asylum in Ethiopia from persecution in Egypt, like other artisans said to have participated in the task of hewing out these magnificent churches during the reign of Emperor Lalibäla of the Zagwé dynasty. The French traveller, Achille Raffray, claimed that in a MS. partially copied by him at Lalibäla in 1881, one page, apparently written in Coptic, Arabic and Ge’ez, was the work of Sidi-Mäsqäl himself and comprised a copy of a grant of land made to the monks attached to the churches by Emperor Lalibäla. According to Raffray, Sidi-Mäsqäl was said to have been buried in Bét Mädhané-‘Aläm.
A. Raffray, Les Églises monolithes de Lalibela (Paris, 1882).
——–, “Voyage en Abyssinie at au Pays des Gallas-Raias,” in Bulletin de la Société de Géographie (Paris, 1882): 344 ff.
G. Simon, L’Ethiopie (Paris, 1885), 323.
A. A. Monti della Corte, Lalibelà (Roma, 1940), 20, 144-147.
L. Findlay, The Monolithic Churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia (Cairo, 1943), 23.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography, Vol. 1 ‘From Early Times to the End of the Zagwé Dynasty c. 1270 A.D.,’ copyright © 1975, edited by Belaynesh Michael, S. Chojnacki and Richard Pankhurst, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All rights reserved.