- Label Text
- With Ethiopia, the myth sometimes becomes the message--from Prester John to the Rastafarian’s deification of Haile Selassie. This gift is a fine example of 20th century gold jewelry. It links filigree techniques found in Senegal, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula to Ethiopia as the rising sun and the lions of Judah that guard the gates of Ethiopia. The provenance of these pieces adds to their mythic/historical dimension. Too complex a subject for this report, suffice it to say that Ethiopian princess Viola Ilma lived life on a large, international stage, as did her family. The titles of Prince and Princess descend in the Ilma family from Theophilus Waldmeier, who while serving in the court of Emperor Tewodoros II (died 1868) married Princess Begunda. Viola’s aunt, Hannah, Princess Asfa Yilma (Mrs. Algernon Holland) (died 1945) wrote the first biography of Emperor Haile Selassie and provided support during WWII during his stay in England. Viola visited Ethiopia in 1957 and met with Emperor Selassie perhaps hoping to revive her family's service to Ethiopia. Viola’s autobiography deals with her family and trip “home” but does not specifically mention the jewelry. From stories told to the donor Ms. Boor, it seems that Viola either received the necklace and bracelet from the Emperor in 1957 or possibly inherited them from Princess Asfa Yilma, who received them from the Emperor. Additional research should narrow the date, however the story remains constant.
- Gold filigree necklace with pendants and a central flower that holds a crowned lion holding a staff.
- Princess ASFA Ilma,1957 to 1989
- Theresa Cosma Boor, bequeathed in 1989 to 2012
- Exhibition History
- Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa's Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 4, 2017-ongoing
- Data Source
- National Museum of African Art
- Undetermined artist
- Mid-20th century
- Credit Line
- Gift of Theresa Cosma Boor
- H x W: 22.5 x 14.5 cm (8 7/8 x 5 11/16 in.)