Ethiopian Lion of Judah Rug

The handwoven rug from Ethiopia in our collection is made of goat's wool. The rug has an image of a large lion in its centre.

This lion represents the Lion of Judah. The Lion of Judah is a Jewish symbol, traditionally viewed as the symbol of the Israelite tribe of Judah. According to the Torah, the tribe consists of the descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. The association between Judah and the lion can first be found in the blessing given by Jacob to his son Judah in the Book of Genesis.

Aspects of Ethiopia's history are recorded in a 13th-century document, the Kebre Negest. It tells how a group of Israelites returned with Makeda, theQueen of Sheba from her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem. Through him, she conceived the Solomonic dynasty's founder Menelik I. The Lion of Judah featured prominently on the old imperial flag, currency, stamps, and other items as a national symbol of Ethiopia.

The Lion of Judah is an important symbol in the Rastafari movement. It represents Emperor Haile Selassie and is also a symbol of strength, kingship, pride and African sovereignty. Rastafari believe that the mention of "The Lion of Judah" in Genesis 49:9 and Revelation 5:5 in The Bible refer to Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Watch Natty Mark Samuels, founder of the African School, introduce our Ethiopian rug here.