Rings

before 1868 (made)

Unknown

407-1869 MET

Set of 12 rings; six silver, six gilt, Ethiopia, before 1868 (formerly belonging to Queen Woyzaro Terunesh, second wife of the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II (Theodore))

Set of 12 rings of mixed sizes, 6 gilt, 6 silver. All without ornament.

This set of 12 rings was formerly in the possession of Queen Woyzaro Terunesh, second wife of the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II (Theodore) and mother of the prince Alamayou. In 1864, frustrated by a lack of communication from Queen Victoria’s government, Tewodros took a number of Europeans captive, including the British consul, Captain Cameron. The British response was a military expedition of huge complexity and expense led by Sir Robert Napier. The expedition marched to Tewodros’s fortress at Maqdala where a brief battle took place. Britain won the conflict, but not before the captives were released and Tewodros himself had committed suicide. Contemporary reports record that the widowed Queen expressed a wish to ‘be escorted as far as her native province of Semyen, in the north-west part of Tigreh [but] … when the head-quarters’ camp reached Aikhullet, on May 15 [1868], this poor lady died’, apparently of lung disease. ‘Her funeral took place next morning in the great church at Chelicut … The women of her household, showing her robe, her ornaments, her slippers and her drinking cup, beat their breasts, tore their hair, and scratched their cheeks, shedding tears of real grief as they bewailed her death’ (Illustrated London News, 1868). An inventory of the Queen’s possessions includes mention of ‘6 rings gold or brass, 6 rings silver or lead’. These possessions were sent on to the Secretary of State for India at the India Office, London, and given to the South Kensington (later V&A) Museum the following year.

Accessions register entry: 'Rings (twelve). Silver, six gilt, all without ornament; belonging formerly to the Queen of Abyssinia. Abyssinian. Given by the Secretary of State for India. April 28th 1869'. See 'Set of Articles of Deceased Queen of Abyssinia' and related correspondence in British Library collections at IOR R/20/AIA/503.

Given by the Secretary of State for India

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website