Loot

From the Independent (via David Winter):

Ethiopia demands Britain return all country’s artefacts held by Victoria and Albert Museum

Request comes as treasures plundered by British forces in 1868 are put on display

Ethiopia has demanded Britain permanently return all artefacts that originated in the African country but are now held by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

An Ethiopian official said the government would not accept them on loan.

The declaration comes after the museum – one of London’s most popular tourist attractions – put treasures plundered by British forces from the east African nation in 1868 on display.

“Well, it would be exciting if the items held at the V&A could be part of a long-term loan with a cultural institution in Ethiopia,” museum director Tristram Hunt said.

“These items have never been on a long-term loan in Ethiopia, but as we look to the future I think what we’re interested in are partnerships around conservation, interpretation, heritage management, and these need to be supported by government assistance so that institutions like the V&A can support sister institutions in Ethiopia.”

Among the items on display are sacred manuscripts and gold taken from the Battle of Maqdala 150 years ago, when British troops ransacked the fortress of Emperor Tewodros II.

The offer of a loan did not go far enough for Ethiopia.

“What we have asked (for) was the restitution of our heritage, our Maqdala heritage, looted from Maqdala 150 years ago. We presented our request in 2007 and we are waiting for it,” government minister Hirut Woldemariam said.

Ephrem Amare, Ethiopian National Museum director, added: “It is clearly known where these treasures came from and whom they belong to. Our main demand has never been to borrow them. Ethiopia’s demand has always been the restoration of those illegally looted treasures. Not to borrow them.”

The V and A website has a Maqdala 1868 page, unfortunately only illustrating one object, a crown, which also appears in the Independent article. I had never heard of the Abyssinia Campaign; here is the introduction to the Wikipedia article:

The British Expedition to Abyssinia was a rescue mission and punitive expedition carried out in 1868 by the armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire. Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia, then often referred to by the anglicized nameTheodore, imprisoned several missionaries and two representatives of the British government in an attempt to get the attention of the British government, which had decided against his requests for military assistance. The punitive expedition launched by the British in response required the transportation of a sizable military force hundreds of miles across mountainous terrain lacking any road system. The formidable obstacles to the action were overcome by the commander of the expedition, General Sir Robert Napier, who was victorious in every battle with the troops of Tewodros, captured the Ethiopian capital and rescued all the hostages. The expedition was widely hailed on its return for achieving all its objectives.

Harold G. Marcus described the action as “one of the most expensive affairs of honour in history.”

Happy St. George’s Day

In honor of this auspicious day, a gallery of images of St. George from my collection. Apologies for the poor quality of some of them.

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A statue of St. George by Alexander Scott Carter, in St. Thomas’s Anglican Church, Huron St., Toronto (photo by my friend Bruce Patterson).

AustraliaCrusader

From my graduate school colleague, Lieutenant Colonel Lachlan Mead of the Australian army.

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Family friend Laine Rosin took this photo on a trip to Ethiopia.

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Allen and Unwin printer’s mark.

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This is from the spine of a volume in the great Victoria County History series.

kopeck

My five-year-old found this Russian fifty kopek coin last summer. “Look daddy,” she said. “St. George!” That’s my girl!

londonchurch

Bruce Patterson took this photo in a Catholic church in London.

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My colleague Pam Wilson took this photo in Barcelona.

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This sculpture of St. George is carved on the facade of the Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. I took this photo in 2006.

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A war memorial in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, taken by Dr. Anne Good.

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I acquired this label on an airplane once. I like it especially because dragons are associated with water. 

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If there is Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey, then why shouldn’t there be English whisky too? And what better a character to represent it than St. George?

TrotskySlayingtheDragon1918

One of my favorite representations of St. George comes from shortly after the Russian Revolution, when Christian saints had not been entirely eradicated, but could be repurposed for Communist ends. Here St. Trotsky kills the Counter-Revolutionary dragon, complete with top hat. From Wikipedia.

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From my friend Chris Berard, via Facebook. Happy St. George’s Day!