Ethiopia Ethnology

Ethiopia Ethnology

The garments Abyssinian wont consist of a pair of tight pants to the knees and supported with a girdle, and a large white cloak of cotton, Sciamma (š amm Å ), which is wound to the person with great elegance: the rich people the coat with a large red stripe, or with a fringe of various colors (margäf). The soldiers, the peasants, the travelers also wear a kind of short sheepskin cloak, which has been left the hair. The rich and those who are endowed with dignity also wear silky clothes, and especially the barnú, a kind of large black silk cape with golden trimmings, imported from Egypt. The women wear a kind of long gown down to the feet, with colored (especially blue) ornaments along the button panel on the chest, and characterized by very long narrow sleeves, which gather on the forearm. The great mass of the population goes barefoot and bareheaded, the clergymen however usually wear a kind of white turban as a badge and the monks a yellow cap (qob). Muslims have adopted the turban. For some time now, the use of European shoes, hats and other garments has been gaining ground, at least among the well-to-do. Christians wear a blue cord (tigrai m āetäb, Amharic m ā täb).

According to topschoolsintheusa, the dwellings are, as a rule, the ancient cylindrical hut, covered by a cone-shaped branch roof. In Gondar, in Adua, elsewhere, there are cylindrical huts (commonly called tucul by us) in masonry even with two floors: generally, however, there is only the ground floor, without special flooring. In the north, especially in some Eritrean provinces (Acchelè Guzai, Hamasen), there is also a brick house (hudmò), of a square or rectangular shape, isolated (as in the Scimezana) or attached to the slope of the mountain, which thus forms the internal side of the house. The churches are more carefully built. For the most part they also have the shape of the tucul: the most ancient or those erected according to ancient types are square or rectangular, in masonry, with a flat roof or even with a double sloping roof. The central part of the church, or sancta sanctorum, where the tabernacle (t ā bot) is kept, is isolated from all the rest with walls and is accessible only to the clergy. The convents are only aggregates of tucul near the church. The traditional weapons of the Abyssinians are the javelin or throwing spear, with a rather long spire shaped like an olive leaf, a large curved cutlass (š otäl) and the shield of hippopotamus, buffalo or ox skin: in ancient times, their exceptional ability in throwing the javelin was famous; the shield, round, rising in the shape of a cone, with the raised recessed edge, can be covered with characteristic silver and gold ornaments. The rifle, however, undermined the ancient weapons.

The Abyssinian feed comprises various species of loaves made with flour unleavened, of which the most common is the ‘ Engera (en ǧ är Å, tigrai eng ē r ä ), species of thin flattened, made bake on a metal plate ; traveling is also really uses berkutt Å, formed with flour mixed around a pebble is placed on the burning embers of the fire. Among the various foods we mention b ĕ rundó, beef that is eaten raw in long and thin slices; however, Abyssinian cuisine also knows many sauces and dishes, in which the bärbär ē or red pepper has an important part.

The Abyssinian family hinges on agnation; but the rights of the pater familias over the offspring are not as extensive as in ancient Rome. The man is emancipated when he has celebrated the feast of virility, is married and, after leaving the patema house, has a home of his own: then he considers himself elderly, and can intervene in the assemblies of the village. Two kinds of marriages are known: the one, formal and solemn, which can be considered almost as a contract between the two different lineages to which the spouses belong (q ā l kid ā n, “voice of agreement”), being the exogamy at the basis of this form of union; and the other (said for dämoz or mercede), which consists in the agreement of a man and a woman to live married together for a determined period of time, against payment of a specific reward from the first to the second; the children of the latter marriage consider themselves perfectly legitimate. The first marriage is liable to dissolution by divorce, and customary law is, as a rule, wide towards the woman. Marriage for q ā l kid ā n can also be religiously perfected; but in this case it should become insoluble, so that, as a rule, religious marriage is celebrated only by spouses who are no longer young.

The possession of the land, at least in the northern regions, is very often collective, and belongs to the various families making up the village, families that often boast a common progenitor: periodically, in relation to cycles of crops varying from region to region, the land to be cultivated is divided among the various families, and by each of these between the various heads of families that compose it; the assignee has free and full use of it for the entire period of assignment, with the obligation to contribute to the payment of the tax; after this period, all the plots are collected again in a single mass to proceed with a new distribution. Landed property can be of two kinds: either it originates from very ancient occupations of the land, from purchases of free land, etc., and is then true property (am. rest, tigr. restí, from the verb warasa, “to inherit”), or comes from a concession of available or state- owned land made by the prince in favor of a family or lineage, whose descendants continue to enjoy it (am. gult, tigr. gultí); but also in this second case, if the concessionaires pay the tax and are not guilty of felony, their possession becomes intangible, and their land can be the object of all legal negotiations that entail a rest. On the other species are the gult that a king or a chief grants to his favorites, to churches, etc.: these consist only in the granting of all or some of the tax revenues of the land, of the village, of the region given in gult, and are, by their nature, at all transitory. The possession of the land and the law of marriage give great importance to relations of consanguinity, because in time one can have rights to enjoy the land, as one belongs to a specific descendant: in this way the peoples who populate in all or partly a specific region (for example, Seraè is occupied especially by the Adchemè Melgà), splitting into villages and families; and it should be noted that, in the absence of written laws, not infrequently every people has come up with its own juridical statute.

The continuous political unrest and the scarce intensity of the royal power, as they have hitherto prevented the formation of general laws, common to the whole country, so they have had their repercussions in the judicial systems. The arbitration judgment is very common, and anyone can be chosen by the contenders (š em ā gell ÿ); then the tribunals of the village chiefs function with the municipal assemblies, and those of the district chiefs and provincial chiefs, capable of appeal or for some more serious disputes, especially in matters of land tenure. In the final appeal, the court of the king judges, which practically applies only to the regions close to the royal seat. In the matter of crimes, except for those in which the state is directly offended or threatened, the concept of compensating the offended with material compensation prevails; the homicide itself should be compensated with a wyrgild that the custom of the north established at 120 thalers, and the cases of customary law are very minute and curious, considering – for example – in the wounds, whether or not the blood has dripped to the ground, whether any bones have been found, etc. Of course,

In Abyssinian juridical customs the guarantor is of great importance: every juridical transaction, every commitment to give, do or not do something must be assisted by the constitution of a guarantor who is responsible for the obligee. Another very important institution in Abyssinian legal ethnology is the Amharic fe ṭ em, Tigrinya fe ṣ mí: every convention, every undertaking of commitments is consecrated by the pronouncement of a formula, proposed by one contracting party to the other, which sounds negus ymút, lett. “let the king die!”, that is, “may the king die if this agreement is violated!”: the violation of the pact puts the violator in a state of break with the government, to which he owes for this simple fact, a fine which, at least in the north, it is equal to the guidrigild.

The ghezzí (tigr. Gäzi) is the intimation that is given to anyone to force him to do or not to do something, eg. by those who fear that they are in danger against the one who threatens them, by those who want to summon others to court, and it is done, in Tigrè, with the formula zeb āί n negus “for the back of the king!” the person against whom the injunction is made is liable, by not complying with it, to a fine in favor of the state equal to half of the guidrigildo, or the amount possibly enunciated by the informer in pronouncing the formula; if the formula was unjustly pronounced, the petitioner himself must pay a fine of the same amount.

Ethiopia Ethnology