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The Queen of Sheba
Tsehai, The Sheba-Solomon narrative, oil on canvas
The story of the Queen of Sheba is extremely important to the national and religious identity of Ethiopia, particularly in the northern Christian highlands. The basic elements of the best-known Ethiopian version were transcribed in the Käbra Nägast ('Glory of the Kings'), attributed to Yeshaq of Aksum (early fourteenth century), which was created to provide legitimacy to the recently established Solomonic dynasty, led by Yekunno Amlak (reigned 1270-85).
According to the Käbra Nägast, the Queen of Sheba, known as Makeda, once ruled over Ethiopia's northern highlands. After visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem, she gave birth to their son Menelik in her capital city Aksum. Menelik inherited her kingdom after a visit to his father, from which he returned with the Ark of the Covenant. Over centuries, the narrative has been modified and numerous oral and written versions have been created.
In the last century painted representations of the narrative have appeared and the story has become one of the most common themes in Ethiopian popular painting. Emperors Menelik II and Haile Sellassie I (1892-1975) placed significant emphasis on the Käbra Nägast, claiming direct descent from King Solomon, which was enshrined in Article 2 of the revised (1955) Ethiopian constitution.
has twenty-one painted images in three rows of seven scenes each,
with Amharic captions in black ink. Click here for a description: |