Rhino Hide Shield from Somalia
Nairn Museum

This oval shield is from Somalia. Made of rhino hide, it has six metal bosses, with one missing, secured by rings at the rear of the shield.   

But how did this unusual object come to be in Nairn Museum? During the height of the British empire, some wealthy collectors travelled to European colonies, including those in Africa. They often brought back objects like this, as well as weapons, artwork, textiles, and a range of cultural artefacts.   

This shield is believed to have been collected by a resident of Nairn. It may have been intended for a private collection. These were designed to showcase the collector’s ‘good taste’ and reflected a fascination with ‘exotic’ cultures.  

The objects were also seen as symbols of Britain’s imperial prestige and wealth. More recent reinterpretation of this history now calls into question the lack of cultural sensitivity, especially since many important cultural artefacts were taken without regard for their original context or purpose.  

This object was donated to Nairn Museum but very little is known of the circumstances of its collection.   

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Date: 1800
Materials : Metal, Rhino Hide
Size : 47.9cm x 36cm

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