Arm guard

before 1868 (made)


Height: 15.2 cm, Diameter: 11.2 cm (at widest point), Diameter: 5.9 cm (at narrowest point)

847-1868 MET

Arm guard, Silver ornamented with silver gilt filigree and coloured stones, Ethiopia, before 1868

Arm Guard. Silver ornamented with silver gilt filigree and coloured stones. Hinged on both sides. 6 silver filigree bosses around the edge on each side. Central stone in mount, blue one side, green the other.

This arm guard was presented to the South Kensington Museum (later V&A) by the Foreign Office in 1868. It had formerly been given to a British civil servant, Hormuzd Rassam, by the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II (Theodore). In 1864, frustrated by a lack of communication from Queen Victoria’s government, Tewodros had taken a number of Europeans captive, including the British consul, Captain Duncan Cameron. Rassam, who had been serving as a political agent in Aden (Yemen), was assigned the dangerous mission of delivering a letter from Queen Victoria to Tewodros which sought the captives’ release. Rassam, however, was also captured and remained at Tewodros’ Magdala mountain fortress until 1868 when a British military expedition defeated the emperor’s forces. Shortly afterwards Tewodros committed suicide. Throughout his incarceration, Rassam remained on relatively good terms with the Ethiopian emperor and the gift of this arm guard reflects the esteem held for him by his captor.

Accessions register entry: 'Arm Guard. Silver ornamented with silver gilt filigree and coloured stones. / Presented by Theodoro, King of Abyssinia to Mr Hormuzd Rassam; in red leather case. Modern Abyssinian. Presented by the Foreign Office. Date of receipt from stores 13th July 1868.'

Presented by the Foreign Office

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website