210907 - Tribal Used African Ethiopian Amhara chief/Ras shield - Ethiopia


Ethiopia, Amhara people: A round shield of an Amhara warrior.  

A convex round shield of buffalo leather, of the type of the Ethiopian highlands. With cord edge, covered with dark brown velvet on the front and richly decorated with ornamented brass elements: an arched shield boss, as well as 4 hemispheres, rectangles, bands and individual elements of brass, cut, hallmarked and engraved. 
Attached with decorative nails of brass. 
The reverse is covered with red-dyed leather. 
A central handle made of leather. 
Overall fine condition, showing a good patina from age and use. It is particularly rare that the shield retains the buffalo leather interior lining.
Some holes and signs of wear are evident in the interior lining.
size: c. 48 cm. 

The Amhara peoples used these shields for battle and as prestige items to show rank and importance. The embossed metal decorations have a plating of what looks to be gold. The base material of this shield is forged steel and not leather. This style was known to be used near the end of the 19th century. The front surface is covered with cloth that is the remnants of felt or velvet. 

See a similar example in the Musee Dapper's CHASSEURS ET GUERRIERS; AFRICA: The Art of a Continent, edited by Tom Phillips, (See p. 126 in the above-referenced volume and also, p. 69 in African Shields by Dieter Plaschke and Manfred A. Zirngibl,) see also Marc Ginzberg. AFRICAN FORMS, pp. 168, 1716