Beyonce took inspiration from a Nubian queen for her look at the annual Wearable Art Gala at the WACO Theater Center in Los Angeles, where she was presented with the Humanitarian Award over the weekend.
The mother of three donned a gold dress, head piece, and jewelry inspired by Queen Amanishakheto, who ruled over the Kingdom of Meroë, in what is known today as Sudan.
“We wanted to create an art statement, taking inspiration from the Nubian warrior queen [Amanishakheto],” designers Falguni and Shane Peacock told Women’s Wear Daily of the Gala look. “We felt it was the perfect inspiration when designing for such a strong woman like Beyoncé.”
An elaborate gold train was included in the dress as a show of royalty, and metallic cutouts were “strategically” placed around the dress to “mimic the shape of armor, as worn by the Nubian armies,” the designers explained.
The creation — which took “countless hours” to make over a 10-day period — was an artistic statement in its own right, that paid respect to “Nubian inspiration.”
While much of Queen Amanishakehto’s story is unknown in modern history, she belongs to a long line of Nubian monarchs, and is believed to have ruled over Meroë, a wealthy metropolis of the Kush Kingdom, from 10 BCE to 1 CE.
According to Nubian Pharaohs and Meroitic Kings: The Kingdom of Kush — Amanishakheto was the daughter of King Amanikable, and married to King Teriteqas “as a non-ruling partner.” She ascended to the thrown after Kandake Amanirenas, and is the mother of one of her successors, Queen Amanitore, who is mentioned in the Bible.
Amanishakheto is often confused for her predecessor and reported mother, Amanirenas, known as the “one-eyed queen” who successfully defeated a Roman Army from invasion after Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, broke a peace treaty (that she brokered) and attempted an invasion of Nubia. Following the defeat, a large bronze statue of Augustus’ head was taken as a reminder of the victory, and buried at the entrance way of Amanirenas’ palace so that anyone who entered could walk on the head of her enemy.
As one of many strong female rulers in the Kingdom of Kush, Amanishakheto is credited for building numerous pyramids in the town of Wad Ban Naqa. She is perhaps best known for her immense wealth, and a collection of gold jewelry.
Following her death, Amaishakheto was buried in what is said to be one of the largest tomb’s ever built in Meroë, where she lay alongside her treasured jewelry collection.
In 1834, her pyramid was destroyed by Italian tomb raider, Guiseppe Ferlini, who is responsible for leveling more than two dozen pyramids. Ferlini stole a hoard of precious jewelry from Amanishakheto’s grave, including gorgeous gold necklaces, shield rings, bracelets, earrings, and amulets.
However, Ferlini ran into trouble while trying to sell the stolen fortune because perspective buyers didn’t believe that high quality expensive jewelry could be produced in Africa. Pieces of the collection were eventually bought by King Ludwig I and placed in the State Museum of Egyptian Art of Munich. A larger portion of the collection was also bought by the Egyptian Museum of Berlin where it resides today.
See more photos of Beyonce’s Amanishakheto-inspired dress below.