Ethiopian Velvet Embroidered Lembde, Warrior's Cape
Country Of Origin
Early 20th century
223.5 x 96.5 cms (88 x 38 ins)
Velvet, cotton, silk
These lemde capes, once worn by warriors and officials of the Emperor were originally made from lion skins, hence the shape with long hanging lappets that are suggestive of a pelt. As time passed and people became more urbanised and lions more scarce, the use of skin was replaced by embroidered fabric. One might also suppose that originally those who wore lion skins had to hunt them down themselves if they wanted the honour of wearing one. Similar capes are still worn on festive and ceremonial occasions. There is a very ornate example in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.