The Prince and the Plunder

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

Cloth marked with symbols

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: Cloth marked with figures in a series of squares, said to be from the emperor’s tent

Where: Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Rd, Oxford, OX1 3PP

It is unclear whether this means it was part of the tent or taken out of the tent.

The catalogue entry says it was donated in 1886 by the sister-in-law of the anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor, who described the figures as “magical”

Annual Report 1886 Oxford University Museum of Natural History – ‘Donations to the University Museum The following is a List of the Donations which have been made to the University Museum, Oxford, during the year 1886:- … Anthropology … Cloth inscribed with Magical Figures in Squares, from the Tent of King Theodore of Abyssinia Mrs Tylor 22A Queen Anne’s Gate, London … Edward B. Tylor/ Keeper of the Museum

Related Documents File – Page handwritten in pencil by Edward Burnett Tylor with nine squares/matrices each with numbers written in the boxes within the squares. Next to some of these squares is a column of Tylor’s writing: ‘Arabic Magic Cloth from W. Alfred Tylor. Squares with numbers N will be seen from those given that they do no follow a magic rule, but they are blotted and indistinct and therefore only partly read correctly. Apparently by an inferior practitioner who wrote anything, but some ciphers are almost or quite absurd. EBT Feb 27 1895.’ [MOB 4/9/2001]


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