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    Liberation of Addis Ababa - May 1941 - Flown by Haile Selassie I

    Empire of Ethiopia National Flag.
    The defining figure in modern Ethiopian history is Ras Tafari Makonnen, better known by his throne name of Haile Selassie I, who ruled as Crown Prince, King, Regent and finally Emperor from 1916 to 1974. After the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa was liberated by the Allies during WWII's North Africa campaign, Emperor Haile Selassie returned to his city and his throne on 5 May 1941, five years to the day after he had left. This is the flag, the Standard of the Lion of Judah, that he carried on that momentous occasion.

    It is a 56" X 101" wool, double-faced, Imperial Ethiopian National flag, finished with a tan-colored cloth sleeve. On the obverse is a machine embroidered, stylized "Conquering Lion of Judah", the Biblical symbol of the tribe of Judah and one of the titles of the Solomonic Emperors of Ethiopia. On the reverse is a machine embroidery of a representation of Saint George slaying a dragon, the patron of Ethiopia, and an overt reference to Ethiopia defeating her enemies. The flag is marked on the upper reverse hoist "ETHIOPIA". The flag is specifically identified in an accompanying letter to Dr. Clarence Rungee from Haile Selassie's Private Secretary.

    Ethiopia, located in the northeastern part of Africa, often referred to as the Horn of Africa, was the only African nation that was not colonized by a European power. Called Sheba in ancient times and sometimes Abyssinia, it was a monarchy for most of its existence, ruled by the Solomonic dynasty who trace their lineage to Emperor Menelik I, who is traditionally believed to be the son of King Solomon of ancient Israel and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba.

    In October of 1935, troops from the Kingdom of Italy, a fascist dictatorship ruled by Benito Mussolini, invaded with modern battlefield technologies of mechanized warfare and aircraft and defeated Ethiopia, proclaimed it an Italian province and declared a new Italian Empire. Hailee Selassie fled into exile, first to Jerusalem and then to the United Kingdom. He protested the Italian invasion when he spoke as a member of the League of Nations, an address that made him an international personage and the 1935 Time Man of the Year. While in exile, he declared himself Emperor of Ethiopia, maintained a government-in-exile and focused on countering Italian propaganda as to the state of Ethiopian resistance and the legality of their occupation.

    After the outbreak of WWII, Ethiopia joined the Allies and Ethiopian resistance fighters became a component in the East-African campaign under General Archibald Wavell. This force consisted primarily of Ethiopian-backed African and South African troops called the "Gideon Force" commanded by Colonel Orde Wingate.

    This flag represents the exile of Haile Selassie, the East-African Campaign and the reestablishment of a self-governing Ethiopia. Although, no longer used as the national flag of Ethiopia, the flag remains immensely popular among adherents of Rastafarianism, an acephalic Abrahamic religion that developed in Jamaica during the 1930s, whose beliefs are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible. Practitioners accord Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia central importance; many regard him as the Second Coming of Christ. The Lion of Judah is a prominent symbol in the Rastafari movement. It represents both Emperor Haile Selassie as well as being a symbol of strength, kingship, pride and African sovereignty. This flag would be of great interest to British, African, Ethiopian and Rastafarian collectors. This is a unique opportunity to acquire a flag the was once the property of Haile Selassie.

    The flag is in Good to Excellent Condition - used and lightly soiled, but otherwise complete.

    Provenance: Emperor Haile Selassie I until 1948.

    This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information, along with a 1948 letter of authentication & transmittal from the private secretary to the Emperor of Ethiopia.

    For those who did not receive a hard copy of the auction catalog, we present here the introductory comments and history of Dr. Rungee and his remarkable collection. If you scroll further, you will also find various contemporary newspaper articles, as well as a selection of the many letters of donation and transmittal which accompanied the collection and a categorization of the collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2019
    14th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 419

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