In 2013 Nicola Stylianou researched this object as part of a Collections Review:

This object is a horsehair fly whisk with a carved ivory handle. The handle depicts The Lion of Judah and has an inscription which appears to be Amharic or Ge’ez and not Arabic as the accession notes suggest.

The phrase ‘lion of Judah’ comes from the bible where it is used in Genesis in reference to the Israelite tribe of Judah and in Revelations where it is used to refer to Jesus. It is an important symbol in Ethiopia that denotes the link between Ethiopia and the Tribe of Judah through King Solomon.

The story is laid out in the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of the Kings) a text which dates from the 13th century. It contains an account of how the Queen Makeda of Ethiopia (Queen of Sheba) met King Solomon and returned to Ethiopia pregnant with Menelik I. The Ethiopian people believe their origins to be with the retinue who returned to Ethiopia with the Queen following her visit to Solomon. This is also the myth that accounts for the belief that the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia.

The Lion of Judah is one of the titles used by Ethiopian Emperors from Menelik I to Haile Selassie. The Ge-ez motto Mo`a 'Anbessa Ze'imnegede Yihuda is often found alongside images of the Lion of Judah and translates roughly as ‘The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has Conquered’.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Personal objects
Collection Area Region
elephant ivorywoodhorsehair
Common Name
Simple Name
Production Country

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