From the crown of Cetshwayo

Ostrich feather from the crown of Cetshwayo ka Mpande (ca 1826–1884), King of the Zulu, and Treaty of Ulundi pen
ORCS.4.13 and ORCS.4.15

Cetshwayo invited Theophilus Shepstone, Native Secretary of Natal, to preside over his installation as king in 1873. The crown for the ceremony, seen in the accompanying contemporary photographs, resembled a Zulu warrior’s headdress. The central feature was a large crimson-dyed ostrich feather given by Shepstone’s daughter Florence. Cetshwayo presented this smaller feather as a wedding gift to Florence and it was bequeathed to the Royal Colonial Institute by her son O. I. Mathias.

This pen was used by Zulu leaders on 1 September 1879 to sign the treaty which concluded the Anglo-Zulu War. Its original caption reads: ‘The wooden holder was sharpened, dipped in ink and each chief’s hand was guided by Mr John Shepstone [who acted as translator]’. King Cetshwayo was sent into exile and Zululand was divided into thirteen independent chieftainships.

Extended captions