Ambassador Hailemichael opens ‘Maqdala 1868’ display at the V&A

5 Apr 2018

PRESS RELEASE

Spurred by the prevailing exemplary relations between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the Government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Ethiopian Embassy in London has been engaged proactively with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A) in an effort to explore avenues for cooperation.

To this end, the Embassy warmly welcomes and greatly appreciates the V&A’s decision to host “Maqdala 1868” – a year-long display of 20 rare Maqdala artefacts – as well as its support of a long-term loan request to Ethiopia, of artefacts seized by British troops 150 years ago.

The Embassy views the V&A’s goodwill gesture as a step in the right direction and a springboard for further collaborations around conservation, research and curatorial exchange.

By coincidence, this encouraging development takes place at a time when Ethiopians are commemorating the 200th anniversary of both the birth of the most illustrious victim at the Battle of Maqdala, Emperor Tewodros II, and of course the 150th anniversary of his death.

Preparations are underway to convert Tewodros II’s birthplace of Gondar into a tourist destination. The Amhara State, in collaboration with three universities in the region, is fully restoring the birthplace compound and its surroundings. Emperor Tewodros II is considered the founder of modern Ethiopia, establishing a permanent professional army, working to abolish the feudal system and to create a new nobility of merit.

In his speech on the occasion of the V&A display launch, H.E. Ambassador Hailemichael Aberra Afework will say that two UK monarchs – George V and Queen Elizabeth II – returned crowns taken at Maqdala to Emperor Haile Selassie. “Even the Napier family themselves have recently returned a necklace and a prayer scroll to the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa. Yet further proof that times change and so do attitudes!”

The Embassy avails itself of this auspicious occasion and calls on all custodians of items taken away from Maqdala to proudly take a leaf out of the V&A’s book.

—ENDS—

 

For further information, please contact the Press Office on 0207 838 3883 or 07563 582009; email: press@ethioembassy.org.uk

Magdala 1868 will run from 5 April 2018 – July 2019, in the Silver Galleries, Room 66. Admission is free.

 

Cover photo (l-r): Cotton dress embroidered with silk, said to have belonged to Queen Woyzaro Terunesh, made in the 1860s, given by the Secretary of State for India; Crown, gold and gilded copper with glass beads, pigment and fabric, made in Ethiopia, 1600-1850 and Gold chalice with incised inscription, made by Walda Giyorgis, Gonder, Ethiopia, 1732-1740  (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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