The Prince and the Plunder

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


Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A bronze censer taken by the British Museum’s expert on the expedition, Richard Rivington Holmes

Where: The British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

Provenance: Maqdala referenced at length in the museum’s acquisition notes.

The catalogue entry reads:

“Censer cast in bronze in four parts; round open work base, bowl, domed open work lid and open work handle. The hollow base narrows to a cylindrical stem which is soldered to the base of the bowl. Three suspension rings on the rim of the bowl correspond to three similar on the rim of the lid, through which three iron chains pass, each decorated with three round bronze bells. The open work of the lid forms crescents and diamond shaped cut outs. It is surmounted with and open sided box mounted with a cross. A fourth iron chain is attached to a suspension hole in the top of the cross. All the chains attach to a cast bronze, open work handle, hollow with looped top, mounted with a cross. The open work forms twelve squares. The inner surface of the censer is encrusted with burnt incense.

Museum number: Af1868,1001.15
Height: 28 cm (top of the lid)
Height: 67 cm (with chains and handle extended)
Width: 15 cm
Depth: 15 cm
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Richard Rivington Holmes
Acquisition date: 1868

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