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Historian searches for piece of Ethiopian emperor's clothing last seen in Tameside

A historian is appealing to the public to help him track down a piece of the Ethiopian emperor's coat or scarf which was last seen in Tameside around 155 years ago, following Britain's invasion of Ethiopia.

Andrew Heavens wrote a book, published by The History Press, on the 1868 battle and is now searching for the piece of clothing as he works on an expanded paperback version.

He says this extended version has given him more space to try and track down the emperor's stolen personal possessions.

An article from the Stalybridge Reporter of October 2, 1875 stated that a "small piece of King Theodore's silk scarf, which was cut off after his death and brought home by a soldier" was presented to the Stamford Park Museum by a Mr Henry Keefe, of Princess Street.

The Stamford Park Museum shut down and was demolished in the 1950s and the bits of its collection that survived were distributed to local museums. When Andrew approached Stalybridge Library and the museums department at Tameside Metropolitan Borough, both said they haven't got the item of clothing.

"It may have been lost or destroyed," he said.

"But I thought there was just a chance someone took it home when the museum closed, particularly if it was in a nice display case. The battle was a big deal at the time. Finding any relic of the emperor now would be a huge deal. He is one of the giants of African history. And Ethiopia is appealing for the return of the Mandala plunder in the same way Greece wants the Elgin Marbles back."

Soldiers from Britain and British India charged into the east African mountain kingdom of Abyssinia – now better known as Ethiopia in 1868 – defeated Emperor Tewodros II, freed his European captives and grabbed piles of plunder including gold crowns, illuminated manuscripts and sacred carvings.

Tewodros took his own life as the soldiers broke into his fortress of Magdala. When they found his body, a mob stripped it, cut off locks of hair for souvenirs and ripped up his coat for souvenirs. Bits and pieces have been turning up ever since.

There is a 12cm-long piece of cloth cut from the Emperor’s coat in The Cameronians Regimental Museum in Hamilton, so it may look something like this - http://www.sllcmuseumscollections.co.uk/search.do?mode=1&view=detail&id=136605&db=object.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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