Hippopotamus hide - a very thick, tough leather - has been skilfully formed into a circular shape to create this ceremonial shield. The shield features upturned edges, and is beautifully decorated with raised patterns typically found on Ethiopian hippopotamus hide shields. Emblazoned on the front of the shield is a red ochre cross - a particularly striking feature of this piece.
An important insignia of manhood, hippopotamus hide shields connoted the courage of Sidamo warriors. During 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