Chalice thumbnail 1
Chalice thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries

Chalice

1735-1740 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This chalice comes from the Ethiopian Orthodox church and was used for the consecration of the wine. An inscription records that it was given to the church of Qwesqwam by King Iyyasu II (ruled 1730-55) and his mother Empress Mentewwab. It reads, 'This is the chalice of our King Iyyasu, whose throne name is Adyam Saggad, and of our Empress Walatta Giyorgis, Berhan Mogasa, which they gave to the tabot of Quesqwam so that it might be for them salvation of body and soul'. (A tabot is a symbolic representation of the biblical Ark of the Covenant.) The chalice was taken by British troops at the siege of Maqdala (Magdala) in 1868. It was deposited at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) by H.M. Treasury in 1872. The Ethiopian church was part of the Coptic church until 1959, when it became fully independent.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Raised, embossed and incised gold
Brief Description
Gold chalice with incised inscription, made by Walda Giyorgis, Gonder, Ethiopia, 1732-1740
Physical Description
Gold chalice with a slightly domed and tiered circular foot. The trumpet shaped stem with three knops separated by embossed floral bands. The stem is surmounted by a wide cup with a flat rim. Under the rim of the chalice is an incised dedicatory inscription. On the base is the name of the maker.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 20.8cm
  • Bowl diameter: 20cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Dedicatory inscription in Amharic
  • Maker's name (Incised on foot)
Gallery Label
  • Maqdala 1868 display, 5 April 2018 - 30 June 2019 Chalice ጽዋ Made by Walda Giyorgis, Gondar, Ethiopia, 1735–40 The inscription on this solid gold chalice tells us that it was given to the Church of Our Lady of Qwesqwam, near Gondar. The chalice and the crown nearby were gifts from King Iyyasu II (ንጉስ እያሱ 2ኛ), who ruled from 1730 to 1755, and his mother Empress Mentewwab (እቴጌ ምንትዋብ). After being brought to England following the siege at Maqdala, the crown and chalice were the subject of a House of Commons debate, where the Prime Minister William Gladstone passionately argued to return them to their homeland. Raised, embossed and incised gold Deposited at the South Kensington Museum by H.M. Treasury in 1872 Museum no. M.26-2005 The inscription highlights the devotion and connection of Ethiopian Orthodox Church to the country’s royal family. Bittersweet, as I can’t help thinking about the Maqdala loot – how many masterpieces alike have been auctioned off, undocumented and without trace? - Samuel Berhanu, artist and member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church(5 April 2018 - 30 June 2019)
  • Ethiopian Chalice This chalice comes from the Ethiopian Orthodox church and was used for the consecration of the wine. An inscription records that it was given to the church of Quesquam by King Iyyasu II (ruled 1730-55) and his mother. It reads, 'This is the chalice of our King Iyyasu, whose throne name is Adyam Saggad, and of our Empress Walatta Giyorgis, Berhan Mogasa, which they gave to the tabot of Quesqwam so that it might be for them salvation of body and soul'. (A tabot is a symbolic representation of the biblical Ark of the Covenant.) The chalice was taken by British troops at the siege of Magdala (Mek'dala) in 1868. It was deposited at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) by H.M. Treasury in 1872. The Ethiopian church was part of the Coptic church until 1959, when it became fully independent. Gondar, Ethiopia, probably about 1730-55 Gold with hammered, cast and chased decoration Museum no. Loan:T.11 [now M.26-2005](22/11/2005)
Historical context
The Eastern Churches

The history of the church around and beyond the eastern Mediterranean is complex. The earliest eastern churches were established in Antioch, Alexandria and other cities in the 1st century. They were independent communities and theological controversy sharpened their differences.



In 330 Constantinople (now Istanbul) became the capital of the Roman empire. Successive bishops of Constantinople, later given the title of patriarch, gradually won authority over other eastern churches, despite the opposition of the pope. Churches that accepted the jurisdiction of the patriarch became known as Orthodox, but others, including those of Armenia and Ethiopia, developed along separate lines. Diversity of practice and doctrine in the eastern churches is reflected in the different kinds of regalia and sacred silver. Yet some forms such as the chalice are common to all, indicating a shared core of beliefs.
Production
The maker's name is incised on the foot.
Association
Summary
This chalice comes from the Ethiopian Orthodox church and was used for the consecration of the wine. An inscription records that it was given to the church of Qwesqwam by King Iyyasu II (ruled 1730-55) and his mother Empress Mentewwab. It reads, 'This is the chalice of our King Iyyasu, whose throne name is Adyam Saggad, and of our Empress Walatta Giyorgis, Berhan Mogasa, which they gave to the tabot of Quesqwam so that it might be for them salvation of body and soul'. (A tabot is a symbolic representation of the biblical Ark of the Covenant.) The chalice was taken by British troops at the siege of Maqdala (Magdala) in 1868. It was deposited at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) by H.M. Treasury in 1872. The Ethiopian church was part of the Coptic church until 1959, when it became fully independent.
Bibliographic References
  • Heldman, Marilyn. African Zion, the Sacred Art of Ethiopia Yale University Press, 1993. 248 p., ill. 112. ISBN0300058195
  • Mercier, Jacques, The Gold Crown of Magdala. Apollo, December 2006, Vol. 164, p46-53
Other Number
LOAN:TREASURY.11 - Previous loan number
Collection
Accession Number
M.26-2005

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record createdDecember 13, 2004
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