Headdress, c. 1900

Not on Viewexpand_more

Everything about this prestigious Ethiopian costume shouts “lion”! The animal’s fur and mane were used to decorate the shoulders of the cape and the crown of the headdress. The cape’s shape is modeled on a lion skin, with long straps suggesting four paws and a tail. The front-piece has a central triangular gilded plaque engraved with a lion and a sword. This is the Lion of Judah, traditionally regarded as the symbol of the Israelite King Solomon from which the emperors of Ethiopia claimed descent. In the past, an emperor would have given this costume to a great hunter or warrior as a badge of honor.

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