Presentation of Hayle Sillasie in photographs from imperial era Ethiopian books

  • Hanna Rubinkowska-Anioł (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The aim of this article is to show how the presentation of the Emperor in photographs published in books during the imperial era conveyed a message of power. In the article the use of traditional symbols from Ethiopian paintings as well as new influences will be taken into consideration. Publishing in Ethiopia was one means of spreading education and introducing modernity – two aims perceived by Hayle Sillasie to be among the most important tasks of the state. The Emperor was also aware of the opportunities provided by the printed word and by pictures for conveying a message of power. Apart from written texts, every single detail of the books published in Ethiopia under Hayle Sillasie’s rule was thoroughly and precisely designed and served a specific purpose. The appearance of the books, the way of conveying bibliographical information within a book, the design of the title pages and so on, were employed to convey a specific message, one which emphasised Hayle Sillasie’s right to rule the country, his power and his political program. In this respect, a special role was played by photography, and especially by the portraits of His Majesty himself and other members of the royal family. Such portraits were published within the editorial pages of most Ethiopian books. In this article, analysis will be limited to the information concerning power conveyed by the images of Hayle Sillasie I in the opening pages of Ethiopian books.