Tribute to Ras Seymore McLean

The loot also included: two crowns, and a royal cap, all three seemingly belonging to Tewodros, and his imperial seal; a golden chalice, probably that mentioned in Holmes's above-mentioned report; 10 tabots, or altar slabs, evidently looted from the churches of Maqdala; a number of beautiful processional crosses, which ended up at the South Kensington Museum, later the Victoria and Albert Museum; two of the Emperor's richly embroidered tents, which are now in the Museum of Mankind, in London; and pieces of the deceased monarch's hair, some of it to be seen to this day in the National Army Museum, also in London.

VII.  The initiative of Emperor Yohannes IV

Tewodros's successor, Emperor Yohannes IV, was deeply grieved by the loss of the treasures from Maqdala. Having no hope of obtaining full restitution he wrote two letters, on 10 August 1872, to Queen Victoria and the British Foreign Secretary, Earl Granville, respectively. In them he requested the return of two items, a manuscript and an icon. Both were considered of particular importance. The manuscript was a Kebra Nagast, or "Glory of Kings", which, though not specified in his letter, was of especial interest in that its end-papers contained "historical notices and other documents" relating to the city of Aksum, as Dr Dieu of the British Museum was later to note.

The icon was no less notable. Known in Ge`ez as a Kwer'ata Re`esu, literally "Striking of His Head", it was a representation of Christ with the Crown of Thorns. This painting had, since at least the seventeenth century, been taken by Ethiopian rulers and their armies with them whenever they went on a major, or particularly hazardous campaign. This highly prized painting had been captured by the Sudanese in the eighteenth century, but had later been repurchased, on which occasion, the Scottish traveller and historian James Bruce recalls, Gondar, the then Ethiopian capital, was "drunk with joy".

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