One of the more unusual museums I visited on my recent trip to Cairo was the Ethnological Museum. This is a very old-school museum with displays that don't look like they've been changed much in the past fifty years. It contains a good collection of costume, day-to-day objects, and weapons and armor. This includes an impressive array of East African shields that I'm showing here. In the upper floor is the Ethnographic Society with a lovely Victorian lecture hall and a sizeable library.
Located just off Tahrir Square, the heart of the famous 2011 revolution, it's one of the best guarded museums I have ever seen. Part of the grounds have been converted into a police headquarters. To get onto the property I had to go through a metal detector and show my passport. Then a cop with a machine gun escorted me to the museum. From there a museum official followed me from room to room until I left. No one is stealing these shields!
I'm far from an expert on African shields, although I am familiar with the Ethiopian forms. Unfortunately there was no signage in this room to help me. My identifications should thus be taken with a grain of salt. Any help identifying these fascinating pieces of African militaria would be highly appreciated!
|The top shield is made of the plastron (belly part of the shell) of a giant turtle.|
|Two more shields. Like the vast majority of the shields in this collection, they are made of animal hide, which was strong enough to counter blows from clubs, arrows, and spears, but useless against bullets.|