Hippopotamus Hide Shield. Sidamo Culture, Ethiopia
This shield features upturned edges, and is decorated with beautiful raised patterns typically found on Ethiopian hippopotamus hide shields. Hippopotamus hide - a very thick, tough leather - has been skilfully formed into a circular shape in order to make this ceremonial shield. A striking feature of this shield is a red ochre cross, which emblazons the front.
Hippopotamus hide-covered shields connoted the courage of Sidamo warriors and were an important insignia of manhood. At a Sidamo man’s funeral his shield and spear may be carried by a male relative, or displayed by his grave in his memory.
Ex Private Collection, Ethiopia (Addis Ababa)
Estimated Period: 19th Century