Kwame Opoku – BRITISH MUSEUM TO LOAN LOOTED ‘INVISIBLE’ ETHIOPIAN TABOTS TO ETHIOPIA: HOW FAR CAN ABSURDITIES GO IN RESTITUTION ?

toncremers.nl/HOW FAR CAN ABSURDITIES GO.htm

‘From this scene I strolled away to the northern gate, to where the dead body of the late Master of Magdala lay, on his canvas stretcher. I found a mob of officers and men, rudely jostling each other in the endeavour to get possession of a small piece of Theodore’s blood-stained shirt. No guard was placed over the body until it was naked, nor was the slightest respect shown it. Extended on its hammock, it lay subjected to the taunts and jests of the brutal-minded. An officer, seeing it in this condition, informed Sir Robert Napier of the fact, who at once gave orders that it should be dressed and prepared for interment on the morrow.’ Henry M. Stanley(1)

Orthodox priest carries a covered tabot in a ceremony in Gondar, Ethiopia. Photo: Jialiang Gao https://commons.wikimedia.

Martin Bailey reports in The Art Newspaper of 20th May 2019 that the British Museum is considering loaning back to Ethiopia 11 of the tabots the British looted from Maqdala in 1868 during the notorious  Abyssinia invasion from which the British stole thousands of Ethiopian treasures that are now in many Western museums and institutions, including the British Museum, described by some as‘ the greatest depositary of looted objects.’(2)

Tabot is an Ethiopian Orthodox Church holy object that symbolically represents the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments and can be seen only by orthodox priests. The British Museum describes the tabot as follows:

‘The Tabot is the foundation of the Ethiopian Orthodox church and is what sanctifies and consecrates a church building. The Tabot is believed by Ethiopian Christians to be the dwelling place of God on earth, the mercy seat described in the Bible and the representation of the Ark of the Covenant. Every church has at least one Tabot which, when consecrated, is kept in the Qeddest Qeddusan, Holy of Holies, where only the clergy may enter. A church may be known by the name of its Tabot which is often dedicated to Mary, Medhane Alam, The Saviour of the World or to saints and angels’(3)

Read on (full text with images and references): toncremers.nl/HOW FAR CAN ABSURDITIES GO.htm

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