Group of people bearing gifts for a kingly figure

Painting on cotton depicting a scene from the story of King Solomon and Queen Sheba. To the right King Solomon (standing) extends his hand in greeting to Queen Sheba. Around the Queen are her entourage of retainers and servants. The highest ranking men wear colourful silk tunics with embroidered velvet capes, 'lemd', and lion-mane headdresses. They carry ornately decorated shields and long spears. Behind this group is a brownish coloured mound representing a crowd of people. To the far left servants in white 'shamma' lead a camel with an ornate saddlecloth and headstall. In the foreground other servants unload gifts in wooden boxes: a coffee pot, carved ivory tusks, and ghee and perfume containers.

The painting depicts the meeting between King Solomon and Queen Sheba of Ethiopia (also known as Saba or Makeda). The story is central to the ancient Ethiopian book, the 'Kebra Negast' or 'Glory of the Kings'. The book has been described as a repository of Ethiopian national and religious understanding. It is an account written in Ge'ez (the ecclesiastic language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church) of the origins of the Solomonic line of Ethiopian emperors and explains how the Ark of the Covenant came to Ethiopia. This is understood as historical fact by many Ethiopian Christians and Rastafarians.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: enquiry@horniman.ac.uk