Killmonger would not be proud!
150 years ago, Ethiopia had hundreds of artifacts stolen during the 1868 capture of Maqdala. These artifacts, which include a solid gold crown and a royal wedding dress, are currently a part of a beautifully sad display, featured in a UK museum. In 2007, Ethiopia filed a claim to take back the artifacts that had been stolen from the capital of Emperor Tewoodros II, which was called Abyssinia at the time. Of course, in pure COLONIZER fashion, Ethiopia’s claim was rejected, however the head of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, suggested a compromise.
The director of the UK museum, Tristam Hunt said, “the speediest way, if Ethiopia wanted to have these items on display, is a long-term loan…that would be the easiest way to manage it.”
The UK museum has already started promoting an event that will display 20 of the stolen Ethiopian artifacts, which will commemorate the battle at Maqdala. In this so-called battle, there were several British residents being held hostage in Abyssinia because they were on, what they call – a “British Expedition” (basically, they were scoping out the land). General Sir Robert Napier gathered his troops, and by troops there were: 13,000 British and Indian troops, 26,000 camp followers, and 40,000 animals, in order to take on Ethiopian Emporer Tewodros II. They stormed the fortress, released the hostages, and recorded the Emperor’s death as a suicide. They took with them anything that could be sold in order to raise funds for their military.
You can read the full statement from Tristam Hunt on the museum’s website about how they are “working” with the Ethiopian and Rastafarian communities in London.
“As custodians of these Ethiopian treasures, we have a responsibility to celebrate the beauty of their craftsmanship, shine a light on their cultural and religious significance and reflect on their living meaning, while being open about how they came to Britain. Maqdala 1868 marks the beginning of what we hope will be an ongoing dialogue about the history of these objects and their place in our national collection today.
The display has been organised in consultation with the Ethiopian community here in London, and is the result of strong collaboration, generous support and valued advice. I’d specifically like to thank His Excellency Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework and the Ethiopian Embassy in London; members of the Ethiopian Heritage Fund and the Anglo-Ethiopian Society; members of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church; and members of the display’s advisory group.
I think this close collaboration really underscores the continuing significance of these objects to communities in Britain and beyond, whilst enabling a vital new understanding of the collection’s significance. With this important free display, we are pleased to share these objects with a new V&A audience, to encourage a better – and a wider – understanding about these objects’ difficult past and their rich Ethiopian cultural heritage.” –Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A
Maqdala 1868 runs from April 5th – July 2019 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the Silver Galleries, Room 66. Admission is free. 2018 also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Tewodros. SIGH!!
Source: Victoria and Albert Museum