The Prince and the Plunder

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

A pair of anklets

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A pair of silver anklets 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

“Pair of woman’s anklets,Yïgïr Ambar, made of silver and silver gilt. Each anklet is made from a band of silver in three sections which are joined in two places with pinned hinges. The external surface of the anklet is overlaid with two bands of fine silver-gilt filigree work riveted in place with eight silver studs. It has three bands of silver gilt spheres set within bands of corded wire. The bottom edge of the anklet is decorated with a fringe of silver chains each ending in small conical bells.”

Curator’s comments:

“These type of anklets were worn exclusively by high ranking Christian women. Gold or gilded silver could only be worn with the permission of the Emperor. Most gold was locally sourced, but much of the silver was obtained by melting down imported Maria Theresa Thalers.
The small conical bells, commonly found on Christian Ethiopian jewellery, are believed to ward of demons with they tinkling sound.”

Museum number: Af1868,1001.3.a-b
Date: 19thC
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Richard Rivington Holmes
Acquisition date: 1868
Anklet 1 – Height: 10 cm; Width: 7.5 cm; Depth: 7.5 cm
Anklet 2 – Height: 10.5 cm; Width: 8 cm; Depth: 7.5 cm

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