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News 31 Jul 13

Tito’s Royal Trophies Exhibited

Fine jewellery, photographs and exotic craftworks: the precious gifts that Josip Broz Tito brought back from his travels are now on show at the Museum of Yugoslav History.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN
Belgrade
Visitor looking at the model of a boat |Photo by Nemanja Cabric

As one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement, Yugoslavia’s president-for-life Tito did a lot of travelling and often came back laden with expensive and unusual tributes.

Some of the lavish gifts he was given while visiting heads of state across the world are now on show in Belgrade at an exhibition entitled ‘Royal Gifts’.

“The chosen exhibits, covering the period from the seventh century BC to the first half of the 20th century, are made of precious metals, gems and the finest porcelain,” the Museum of Yugoslav History explains on its website.

Visitors looking at the medals | Photo by Nemanja Cabric

As well as the jewellery and decorative trinkets that Tito was given by monarchs in Europe, Asia and Africa, there are also portraits of members of royal families and medals that the Yugoslav leader was awarded during his 35 years as the head of the country.

Many of the items on show were given as presents by Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, the leader who Tito met most frequently, according to the museum.

Sihanouk gave Tito a fragment from the wall of the world-renowned Angkor Thom temple, as well as a silver tea set decorated with images of a mythical bird-like creature called the Garuda.

Model of the Ethiopian imperial throne, gift of Haile Selassie | Photo by Nemanja Cabric

On show is also a writing set that resembles a model of the Ethiopian imperial throne, which was given to Tito by the country’s former emperor, Haile Selassie, when the Non-Aligned Movement held its first conference in 1961.

Haile Selassie, who was known for his generosity when it came to giving away valuable pieces of jewellery, also gave Tito bracelets, cigar cases, golden cups and many other presents.

Other notable items at the exhibition include a replica of a seventh-century helmet from Paule, King of Greece, as well as a replica of a historic decree made by Persian king Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC, which was given to Tito by the Iranian Shah Mohammad Rezā Pahlavī.

Golden bracelet with engraved presentation of Haile Selassie | Photo by Nemanja Cabric

One unusual present will not be on display - the set of parrots that British Queen Elizabeth II gave to the Yugoslav leader, along with detailed instructions about how he should look after them – but the story behind the gift is explained as part of the exhibition.

The exhibition at Museum of Yugoslav History is open for visitors every day except Monday until August 25. The ticket price is 200 dinars for adults (about €2) and 100 dinars for children.

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