Small Model of North Gondar Castle

Production date
2004
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Description
With its golden exterior and two-storey high tower, this castle is like something from a fairytale. But this is a small model of a real castle – North Gondar Castle in northwestern Ethiopia. Made from gold-painted metal on a green-painted base, the model was made in 2004 by youth volunteers from the North Gondar Branch of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society. It was gifted to Justin Dell, a member of British Red Cross staff, by the Chairman of the North Gondar Branch, Ato Mekonnen, and the Branch Secretary, Ato Kibret, during a dinner held in Dell’s honour in Ethiopia. The British Red Cross had supported their organisational development and operational programmes in Water and Sanitation across a number of impoverished communities in the Ethiopian highlands.

The real North Gondar Castle is located in the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi in northern Ethiopia, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to legend, a buffalo led the Ethiopian Emperor Fasiledes to the site, where the Emperor built his imperial capital in the seventeenth-century. Art, literature and music flourished within these fortress walls. Gondar-style architecture is distinctive, influenced by Baroque to Nubian styles. Today the fortress-city is in ruins, and the castle of Emperor Fasiledes is scarred by earthquakes and war. However, the model is golden, giving the castle an almost timeless quality.

I believe that cultural heritage plays a vital role in the identity of people and nations. This object was given to Justin Dell at a time when Ethiopia was recovering from a conflict with Eritrea, continued droughts and high rates of HIV prevalence. North Gondar is located in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. In the words of Justin Dell, “Amharans are very proud people, and I think that given the context, the past, and the poverty, the model of North Gondar Castle was one option that reflects pride and importance”.

Audio recording by Antonia Dalivalle (Volunteer), London.
Collection Type
Objects
Production Place
Media/Materials
History
The castle is based on North Gondar Castle and was a gift to Justin Dell (member of BRC staff) from the North Gondar Branch of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society.
Catalogue Number
2256/1
Associated Person and Role
Justin Dell
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