The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

The Abuna’s gold crown

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: The abuna’s crown, dated 1740, made of gold alloyed with silver and copper with filigree work, glass beads, pigment and gilded copper

Where: The Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL

The catalogue entry reads: “This crown was probably given to an Ethiopian church at the death of an emperor, by his family, to ensure continuing prayers for his soul. Around the two lower tiers are images of the twelve Apostles, Christ’s closest followers. On the top section are the four Evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – who wrote the Gospels. The crown was taken by British troops at the siege of Magdala (Mek’dala) in 1868. It was deposited at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) by H.M. Treasury in 1872.”

Physical description:
“The crown is constructed of an inner raised and domed cylinder surrounded by three pierced tiers. The latter are supported so that they stand away from the inner cylinder. It is thought that originally fabric would have covered the cylindrical portion of the inner body. The remains of the fabric are now crumpled behind the tiers. The fabric behind the top tier is green, while that behind the lower tiers is of a darker green. All are very faded. The domed portion of the crown is decorated with the four apostles and other figures, embossed and chased. Attached to it are eight filigree bead casings, with some beads remaining. The decoration of the tiers appears to have been stamped or chisel-cut from sheet metal.”

Museum number:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *