The Prince and the Plunder

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

Engraved silver processional cross

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: An engraved silver cross, made in 1831-1839, taken from Magdala, given by Lords of the Admiralty

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

The catalogue entry reads: “In 1868 it was taken by British troops at the siege of Maqdala (Magdala or Mek’dala). The same year, the Lords of the Admiralty placed it on loan at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum).”

Processional cross. At the top is a representation of God, the Father, framed by four Apostles. The Ascension of Mary is depicted in the centre of the cross. On the right side is Mary and Jesus, accompanied by the Archangels Michael (right) and Gabriel (left). The left side shows the Dormition of Mary (above) and her entombment (below), between which is David playing his harp. At lower left is Saint George slaying the dragon to save the princess Cleodolinda, the latter known in Ethiopia as Brituwit (i.e. from Beirut). The inverted arch supporting the cross normally would have a depiction of Christ but in this case, and very unusually, the Devil is profiled and the singular eye both identifying him and representing evil.

Museum number:

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