the beauty of culture

Ethiopian Culture

The culture of Ethiopia is diverse and generally structured along ethnolinguistic lines. The country’s Afro-Asiatic-speaking majority adhere to an amalgamation of traditions that were developed independently and through interaction with neighbouring and far away civilizations, including other parts of Northeast Africa, the Arabian PeninsulaIndiaItaly and Malaysia. By contrast, the nation’s Nilotic communities and other ethnolinguistic minorities tend to practice customs more closely linked with South Sudan and/or the African Great Lakes region.

Music

The music of Ethiopia is extremely diverse, with each of the country’s ethnic groups being associated with unique sounds. Some forms of traditional music are strongly influenced by folk music from elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, especially Somalia. However, ring the reign of Gabra Masqal. In northeastern Ethiopia, in Wollo, a Muslim musical form called manzuma developed in 1907. Sung in Amharic, manzuma has spread to Harar and Jimma, where it is now sung in the Oromo language. In the Ethiopian Highlands, traditional secular music is played by itinerant musicians called azmari (Zageth), who are regarded with both suspicion and respect in Ethiopian society.

The mesenqo (also spelled mesenkomesenqomesenkomesinko, or mesinqo in Amharic) or chira-wata (in Tigrinya) is a single-stringed bowed lute commonly found in the musical traditions of Ethiopia and Eritrea.[1] As with the krar, this instrument is used by Ethiopian minstrels called azmaris (“singer” in Amharic) .[2] Although it functions in a purely accompaniment capacity in songs, the masenqo requires considerable virtuosity,[1] as azmaris accompany themselves while singing.

The begena (or በገና in Amharic) is an Ethiopian string instrument with ten strings belonging to the family of the lyre. Oral tradition identifies the instrument with the kinnor of Ancient Israel, played by David to soothe King Saul‘s nerves and heal him of insomnia, and later brought to Africa by Menelik I. Its actual origin remains in doubt, though local manuscripts depict the instrument at the beginning of the 15th century (Kimberlin 1978: 13).

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Clothing

n some central and northern areas, women’s traditional clothes are often made from cloth called shemma. It is basically cotton cloth, about 90 cm wide, woven in long strips which are then sewn together. Sometimes shiny threads are woven into the fabric for an elegant effect. It takes about two to three weeks to make enough cloth for one dress. The bottom of the garment or shirt may be ornamented with patterns.

Men wear pants and a knee-length shirt with a white collar, and perhaps a sweater. They also frequently wear knee-high socks, while women might not wear socks at all. Men as well as women wear shawls, the netela. The shawls are worn in a different style for different occasions. When going to church, women cover their hair with them and pull the upper ends of the shawl about their shoulders reproducing a cross (meskelya), with the shiny threads appearing at the edge. During funerals, the shawl is worn so the shiny threads appear at the bottom (madegdeg). 

Women’s dresses are called habesha kemis, and are often made from the shemma cloth. The dresses are usually white with some color above the lower hem. Bracelets and necklaces of silver or gold are worn on arms and feet to complete the look. A variety of designer dinner dresses combining traditional fabric with modern style are now worn by some ladies in the cities.

These traditional clothes are still worn on a day-to-day-basis in the countryside. In cities and towns, western clothes are popular. However, on special occasions such as New Year (Enkutatash), Christmas (Genna) or weddings, some wear traditional clothes.

Often, a woman will cover her head with a shash, a cloth that is tied at the neck. Shama and kuta, gauze-like white fabrics, are often used.[2] This is common among both Muslim and Christian women. Elderly women will wear a sash on a day-to-day basis, while other women only wear a sash also called a netela while attending church.

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Food

the Ethiopian cuisine consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrees, often prepared as a wat or thick stew. One or more servings of wat are placed upon a piece of injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour. One does not eat with utensils, but instead uses injera (always with the right hand) to scoop up the entrees and side dishes. Traditional Ethiopian food does not use any pork or seafood (aside from fish), as most Ethiopians have historically adhered to Islam, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, or Judaism, all of which prohibit eating pork. Additionally, throughout a given year, Orthodox Christians observe numerous fasts (such as Lent), during which food is prepared without any meat or dairy products. Another dish served in Ethiopia is Doro wat, which is chicken stew with hard boiled eggs.

Ethiopian food is both distinctive and delicious, befitting a remarkable country with a cultural heritage that stands out from the rest of Africa.While the cuisine of Ethiopia is gradually becoming better known, it’s no overstatement to say it remains one of the world’s best-kept secrets.
Eating Ethiopian-style means rethinking many assumptions you might have about dinnertime — for most of us this means starting with eschewing cutlery and being ready to get messy fingers. That’s because the foundation of the vast majority of Ethiopian meals is injera, a giant grey spongey pancake-like bread, upon whose strangely rubbery surface are served a vast array of foods, ranging from multi-colored mounds of spicy stews to vegetable curries to cubes of raw meat
This mode of eating is highly communal, with everyone gathering around a large circular metal tray of injera heavily laden with food as hands go back and forth scooping up from the various piles of foodstuffs with strips of injera torn from the edges.
All this can take some getting used to; tourists have been known to mistake injera for the tablecloth or for kitchen flannel. Also, the bread’s bitter, slightly sour taste can put some off. But injera’s subtle taste-enhancing power lies in how it contrasts beautifully with, as well as tempers, the fiery sauces it accompanies. 
Ethiopians, like Indians, aren’t shy of adding spices. One of the most common accompaniments is berbere, an Ethiopian spice mix containing up to 16 constituent elements, including chili powder, fenugreek, ginger, garlic, cardamom and cinnamon.
Another bonus of eating Ethiopian is that injera is made from tef — the world’s smallest grain — which Ethiopians have grown and obsessed about for millennia. In America and Europe it is increasingly viewed as a “super grain,” up there with quinoa and spelt, being high in protein and calcium, and gluten-free. The result of all of the above will have your taste buds doing somersaults, while also being good for you. Most Ethiopian dishes are nutrient-dense and low in fat.
Beyond the endless dishes on offer, it’s essential to try Ethiopian coffee after a meal. Ethiopia is reportedly the birthplace of quality Arabica coffee, and its coffees are widely praised as some of the best in the world.
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