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Tabot (Ge'ez ታቦት tābōt, sometimes spelled tabout), is a Ge'ez (as well as Ethio-Semitic) word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. The word tsellat (Ge'ez: ጽላት ṣallāt, modern ṣellāt) refers only to a replica of the Tablets, but is less commonly used.
According to Edward Ullendorff, the word tabot is derived from the Jewish Aramaic, or more specifically the Aramaic, word tebuta (tebota), which in turn is derived from the Hebrew tebah. "The concept and function of the tabot represent one of the most remarkable areas of agreement with Old Testament forms of worship."
A tabot is usually six inches (15 cm) square, and may be made from alabaster, marble, or wood from an acacia tree—although David Buxton states the maximum length of 40 cm is more common. It is always kept in ornate coverings to hide it from public view. In an elaborate procession, which has often reminded literate onlookers of the sixth chapter of 2 Samuel where King David leads the people dancing before the Ark, the tabot is carried around the church courtyard on the patronal feast day, and also on the great Feast of Timket (known as Epiphany or Theophany in Europe). Buxton describes one such procession, on the festival of Gabra Manfas Qeddus:
Although Ethiopia was never colonized by the British, many tabots were looted by them during the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia, which is a cause of anger among Ethiopians. During the looting of the Ethiopian capital of Magdala in 1868, British soldiers took hundreds of tabots. The return in February 2002 of one of these, discovered in the storage of St. John's Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, was a cause of public rejoicing in Addis Ababa.