Black Royalty: The Court Photography of the Boyadjians

Ras Tafari later crowned Emperor Haile Selassie, 1920,

photographed by Bedros Boyadjian and Haigaz Boyadjian. Though the term ‘Rastafari’ comes from him, only a small colony of Jamaican Rastafari live in the south-central region of Ethiopia. Rastafianism is largely a Caribbean phenomenon.
I recently visited the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, for an interesting exhibit featuring the photography of the Boyadjians.

The Boyadjians were an Armenian family of photographers who documented the Royal court in Ethiopia. In 1905, Belos Boyadjian settled in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. He became an official court photographer a year later chronicling the life of Emperor Menelik II. After the death of Belos in 1928, his sons Haigaz and Tony took over the business, becoming the court photographers for Negus, later crowned Emperor Haile Selassie.

Coronation photograph

Often the photographers would take the photograph using poses and wardrobe of the Western elite. These photographs would later be cropped, colored, and pasted, creating a photo montage that displayed the subject at his/her optimal state of perfection. There was also a certain mystique that surrounded the Emperor. Menelik II was thought to be the love child of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. This mythology added intrigue to the photographs.

The Negus wearing indoor clothing: Still regal and dignified in ordinary clothing. He was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930.

Interestingly, the family portrait business was not only relegated to the males. Dicky Boyadjian also participated by assisting her brothers Haigaz and Tony, while sometimes taking photos herself.

Dicky Boyadjian would hand-color family photographs



And on that note: Foreign Magazines


Celebrity Perfume Round-up


  1. Anonymous

    Nice pictures.

    has good collection of Ethiopian Royal family pictures, found under “Royal Ethiopia” in their “Web Directory” at the bottom.


  2. Hi

    I am Manuela Piedrahita journalist of the Colombian company Taller de Edición. By this letter I will like to ask your permission in order to use one of your images in one of projects. Regarding the 100 years of the newspaper El Universal from Caracas, Venezuela, we want to publish a book showing its evolution during these years. Because of this, we would like to use the image:


    It will only be used to refer a small article of the book. We request your authorization to use this image.

    In advance thank you very much for your attention. We really appreciate your help.

    I will be waiting for your response.

    Manuela Piedrahita Martínez.
    [574] 3136555 ext. 112

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