Necklace

before 1868 (made)

Unknown

Length: 43.5 cm

1729-1869 MET

Leather thong with silver wire and glass beads, Oromo, Ethiopia, before 1868.

Twisted leather thong bound with silver wire and ornamented with glass beads (three blue, one white).

The vendor of this necklace, Major Holland, probably acquired it via his involvement in a British expedition to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1868. The expedition was prompted by the capture of a number of Europeans, including the British consul Captain Cameron, by the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II (Theodore), who had become frustrated with a lack of communication from Queen Victoria’s government. 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. The vendor may have been Major Trevenen James Holland who, with a military colleague, Sir Henry Montague Hozier, provided the only official account of the expedition on the orders of the Secretary of State for War. Their Record of the Expedition to Abyssinia was published in two volumes in 1870. This leather necklace is described in 19th-century Museum documentation as having been worn by ‘Galla women’. The term ‘Galla’ was historically applied to Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.

Accessions register entry: 'Necklace. Twisted leather bound with silver wire, and ornamented with glass? Beads; worn by the Galla women. Abyssinian. Price £10.0.0. Purchased from Major Holland. Date of receipt from stores 26th April 1869.'

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website