Brick from the Mahdi’s tomb used as a Big House doorstop

 

At the Battle of Omdurman on September 2nd, 1898, British troops, led by General Kitchener, decisively quelled an Islamic rebellion in Sudan. The victory was seen as revenge for an event which had shocked the British Empire more than a decade earlier. In 1885, Khartoum – and General Gordon’s garrison – had fallen to the Mahdi, a fundamentalist, self-proclaimed Islamic “redeemer” and his much-feared fighters, the “Fuzzy-Wuzzy” – famously feted by Kipling: “So ‘ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan;/ You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen but a first class fightin’ man”.

The Mahdi died six months after Khartoum and was buried in Omdurman . But such was the potency of his legacy, the British destroyed his tomb after the Battle of Omdurman to prevent it becoming a permanent rallying point and shrine for his followers. “A brick from the Mahdi’s tomb on the Nile” (€200-€300) is among the intriguing lots in Mealy’s two-day Summer Sale of fine art, antiques and collectibles – beginning on Tuesday. The brick was brought home as a souvenir by a Capt Sponge and was, until recently, according to the auctioneers, “used as a doorstop by its Irish aristocratic owners”.

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