19th C Ethiopian Arusi-Galla or Oromo tribal shields - two

19th C - circa 1895 - Ethiopian Arusi-Galla or Oromo tribal shields. Two shields. Intricately tooled buffalo hide. Ridge-form deflects arrows.

Old stitched repairs to punctures on one shield

The Galla, also called the Oromo, are the largest, most widely dispersed people group in Ethiopia. Composed of approximately a dozen tribal clusters, the Galla prefer the term "Oromo" when speaking of themselves. To them, the term "Galla" has a derogatory connotation. Nearly all the Galla speak mutually intelligible dialects of a language called Gallinya. Although they retain similarities in their descent system, they differ considerably in religion, lifestyle, and political organization.
Migrating from the Horn of Africa, the Galla arrived in Ethiopia four centuries ago. Together with the Amhara and the Tigrai, they dominated the government and military classes of the Ethiopian Empire. In the 1700's and 1800's, the Arusi-Galla became a prominent force in Abyssinian (Ethiopian) politics. During the nineteenth century, they converted to Islam. Today, they are more apt to speak Amhara and Tigrinya than Oromo, their native tongue.

Dimensions in inches, ovoid diameter - 28

$5,000 for pair

T. Reggiardo Antiques, located in the Presidio Heights neighborhood of San Francisco since 1998, specializes in 18th and 19th century English and Continental - Italian, French, German, Dutch, Swedish - furniture and works of art. The shop also carries select 20th century pieces of furniture and art.

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Photographs by Tom Wacha of Stella Studio.

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