Dear and Respected Brethren,
In digest No-2649 Mr. Robin J. Mani has written: "I had a question about the Holy Qurbono. When a Bishop is officiating the Holy Qurbono, why does the Bishop at certain parts put on the masnaphto 'turban' and hold the Staff and then puts the masnaphto down. Also if anyone knows when the Syriac Orthodox Church adopted the use of the Eskimo for monks and the significance of wearing the Eskimo by monks."
When the celebrant is a Bishop or higher position, he is pulling up the Sheelmudi as a veil to cover his face from the congregation. (The oblong is with embroidery work it is often draped over the head as a veil) This veil is the crown of glory. When Moses spent days together with God on top of the mountain, he also got the glory of God and when he came down to his people, they requested him to cover his face. (Refer Exodus 34: 33-34) So our Bishops and above do wear the sheelmudi when they face the congregation. At the time of transferring the heavenly blessings, they hold the staff, as the sign of their authority as our shepherd. Kindly note that it is not the Masnaphto used by Bishops and above to cover their face during the Sacraments, when they face the congregation. I think Robin refers to Masnaphto where he wrote 'eskimo'. It is the symbol of the Monks. It has got twelve small crosses and a big cross. It is only the head cover of the Monks. St. Antony is honored as the father of the Orthodox Monasticism. He was the son of a rich textile merchant in Egypt. In his young age he used to help his father when he had spare time. One day while he was in the cash counter he saw a young man and young woman kissing publicly outside his business firm. It is said that immediately he took a black piece of cloth and covered his face and head and ran to the desert and stayed there till the end of his life. Then and there, started the origin of the head cover for monks. Monasticism drew its origin from the examples of the Prophet Elijah and St. John the Baptist who both lived alone in the desert. The first famous Christian known to adopt the life in a desert was
> St. Antony (251-356). He lived alone in the desert until he attracted a circle of followers, after which he retired further into the desert. As the idea of devoting one's entire life to God grew, more and more monks joined him, even in the far desert. The concept of monks all living together under one roof and under the rule of a single Father is attributed to St Pachomios. (292-348). At this same time, St. Pachomius' sister became the first nun of a monastery of women (convent). It is to be believed that monasticism must have been started in the Syrian Orthodox Church around this time and from the very first day of inception of the Monasticism, they must have used the Masanphto (Head cover) As Christianity grew and diversified, so did the style of monasticism. In the East, monastic norms came to be regularized through the writings of St. Basil the Great (330-379)
Thanks and regards,
Jose Kurian Puliyeril.