Gurage People, Gurage Clothing, Gurage Culture – A Precise Guide

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Gurage clothing, Gurage food, and the Gurage life made a unique people with unique culture that live in a green land and in the south of Ethiopia. People of Gurage are a member of the Afro-Asiatic family group. Also known as Afrasian. It is one of the largest language family including over 300 languages spoken predominantly in the horn of Africa.

The Gurage clothing has its own design that makes it different from the rest of Ethiopia. Even the Gurage clans have unique dresses and articulations.

They have three main sub-group of the clan. they are Kistane Sebat-bet and Silte (they were the part of Gurage but know they asserted non-Gurage identity). 6 different languages spoken.

They are Inor, Soddo, Mesmes, Zay, Sebat bet, and Mesqan. the languages belong to the Semitic and the Afro-Asiatic language group. Which makes them relate to Geez. But not always they understand or perceivable. For example, the seven houses known as Sebat Bet, they have seven tribes under them, and over one point two million speakers. These people grouped under sematic language. Like Amharic. But by the influence of the immediate surrounding of other groups of language like Cushitic. They add more vowel than the usual so it better to understand that Gurage is for more cultural rather than linguistic. It might also influence the Gurage clothing.

History of the Gurage

There is a lack of information and history about culture, origins, and the related topic of Gurage people. Many historians try to understand this history in brief from historian Paul B.Henze, an American writer. He noted in his book Ethiopian Journeys that the Gurage people might be military colonials during the late Axumite empire. He wrote, after the downfall of the Axumite empire, the Gurage separated from the northern part and lost connection. Waiting for further instruction from the Aksum, they remained settling.

The area they settled was rather more fertile and they had access to the much freshwater that made it good for agriculture. Henze claims that Gurage people are originally from the northern part of the Amhara and Tigray area.

Where Is the Gurage Zone Now?

Gurage Zone is Located 240km southwest direction from Addis Ababa, in the southern nation and nationalities and people region, surrounded by the Gilegel gibe river and Awash river. Eastern and western parts of the zone bounded by the Oromia region. The landscape is cover by the mountain chain with plateau flat land. the Gurage people occupy the center of the plateau land with elevation 3600 m above the sea level. There landscape almost semi-mountainous highland with forest, river and green valley. Gogeb river crosses the semi-mountainous landscape. Most settlements are dense around this river.

How Do the Gurage People Live?

Even if the zone locates in the three divisions of climate (kola, Dega, and weyinadega) the dominant climate is Weyinadega climate division. With a recorded low temperature of 14 degrees Celsius and highest of 34 degrees Celsius. This climate affects the housing system of Gurage people. It structured with one central wood column held together with wooden spokes. They use all traditional connecting systems to hold them together.

The center column also supports the thatched roof and its structure. The wall constructed from the wood structure and mad finishing. After that they decor the exterior part with some color and mud. Interior décor by hand made pottery hang on it. The center of the room serves as heating the entire house and cooking meals around it. The typical Gurage house has a small portion of livestock for their animals to keep them inside during difficult weather and night.

gurage enset
“Ensete ventricosum” by pris.sears is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

What is the economy of the Gurage people?

Like most Ethiopian cities, the Gurage People leading economy is depending on the traditional agriculture system. They dwell in infertile land and access to river water. It was easier to involve in complex agriculture systems like crop rotation and transplants. They produce a large amount of Ensete plant which is known as their typical food source, second khat, and coffee also produce in the Gurage zone.

The Gurage people also raise Zebu dairy cattle. These dairy cattle give next to no milk, which is only here and there alcoholic. Rather, it is agitated into the spread, and an average Gurage family unit has an enormous amount of spiced margarine maturing in earth pots dangled from the dividers of their cabins. Margarine is accepted to be restorative, and the Gurage regularly take it inside or use it a cream or poultice. Different types of Ensete are additionally eaten to mitigate ailment.

The Gurage see indulging as coarse and indecent and see it as poor manners to eat the entirety of the Ensete that a host goes around to visitors. It is viewed as affable to leave probably some Ensete bread considerably after an extremely little part is passed around. It is ordinarily expected that a Gurage will stretch out neighborliness to their neighbors and family in administering Ensete openly to them. Be that as it may, Gurage frequently crowds additional nourishment and eat it covertly to abstain from sharing it.

The Gurage are known for their broad development of the Ensete, or false banana plant, known as Ensete, even though this is the training they share with other southern and southwestern Ethiopians. The plant assumes an essential job in the monetary and public activity of the Gurage. they use it for an assortment of residential, what’s more, therapeutic purposes, yet its job in custom examination to be little. It is likewise utilized in different parts of life. For instance, they use Ensete leaves and its stem to cover a dead body and use it two cover a wounded body part of humans and animals. And so on.

Enset and Gurage

The tree has a major stem that becomes under the ground. Its serious development permits the centralization of huge networks is minimal and changeless towns. All around arranged methods of development (in covering two-year cycles) and deliberate stockpiling of Ensete nourishment make it workable for the Gurage to live well above subsistence level. To this, they have mixed it up of money crops which are developed between Ensete plants, without altogether changing the conventional example of cultivating.

Kocho is made by molding the Ensete glue to a thick circle and enveloping it by a meager layer of Ensete leaves. It is prepared in a little pit with coals. Once in awhile the glue is simply cooked over a frying pan. In a scene, in strange nourishments.

All through the Gurage social area, an intermittent advertising framework works, with most markets working just on a novel day of the week. A couple of the bigger markets like the one in Embedder worked in a restricted manner each day of the week however extended enormously “available day.” There were not many perpetual slows down or protects yet each class of merchandise had its specific territory of the commercial center.

Things exchanged included rural items, domesticated animals, stoneware, fabric, basketwork, money harvests, for example, espresso and visit, with a couple of outlandish things from the outside world.

The Social Structure of the Gurage people

The fundamental family structure is a lot bigger than the run of the mill Western atomic unit. The most established male is typically the leader of the family unit and is accountable for the decision. Men, as a rule having the essential salary, control the family financially, and convey cash.

Ladies are responsible for local life and have fundamentally more contact with the youngsters. Youngsters are socially required to think about their folks, thus there are frequently two to four generations in a family. With the coming of urban living, be that as it may, this example is changing, and youngsters frequently live a long way from their families and have a lot harder time supporting them.

Urbanites have to send cash to their families in country zones and regularly attempt their best to move their families to the urban communities.

gurage clothing

The customary establishments take authoritative structures dependent on committees of older folks set up at various levels from neighborhood inborn levels. Their job is to set and authorize standards and rules administering parts of life-extending from basic financial relations between people to a more extensive network, neighborhood, and territorial. 

Youngsters are raised by the more distant family and network. It is the essential obligation of the mother to think about the kids as a feature of her local obligations. On the off chance that the mother isn’t accessible, the obligation tumbles to the more seasoned female kids just as the grandmas.

During youth, kids have the best introduction to their moms and female family members. At around the age of five, particularly in urban regions, kids begin going to class if their families can manage the cost of the expenses. In-country territories, schools are not many and youngsters accomplish ranch work. This implies an extremely low level of rustic youth goes to class. The administration is attempting to ease this issue by building open schools in provincial regions.

The man-centric structure of society is thought about in the pressure instruction for young men over young ladies. Ladies face segregation issues just as physical maltreatment in school. Likewise, the conviction despite everything exists that females are less skillful then guys, and that instruction is squandered on them.

gurage girl
“Faces of Ethiopia (Gurage people)” by is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Religion and Belief of Gurage People

The Gurage have confidence in the Supreme being and a Creator god called “Waq” (Sky God). They take part in customary strict practices, for example, contributions to Waq, their preeminent divinity. They balance models of tribal divine beings in their homes to avert insidious soul.

Earth places of worship to Waq are basic outside of towns. The Fuga individuals, a class of trackers and craftsmen, are considered to hold the way to customary ceremonies. Their rumored intensity of enchantment and witchcraft are extraordinarily dreaded. The Fuga is banned from working the dirt since they are accepted.

The Gurage at times experiences soul ownership. William A. Shack hypothesized that soul ownership is brought about by Gurage social perspectives about nourishment and yearning because while they have an ample nourishment supply, social weights that power the Gurage to either share it to meet social commitments or crowd it and eat it furtively cause them uneasiness. Differentiations are drawn between spirits that just have men, spirits that just have ladies, and spirits that have casualties of either sex.

A custom disease that lone influences men accepted to because by a soul called awre. This distress introduces itself by loss of craving, queasiness, and assaults from extreme stomach torments. If it continues the unfortunate casualty may enter a trancelike trance, wherein he once in a while recovers cognizance sufficiently long to take nourishment and water. Breathing regularly toils. Seizures and trembling beat the patient, and in extraordinary cases, even in complete loss of motion of the limits.

On the off chance that the injured individual doesn’t recoup normally, a customary healer, or sagwara, is gathered. Once the sagwara has decided the soul’s name using divination, he endorses a standard equation to exorcise the soul. This is certainly not a lasting fix, be that as it may, it is acceptable to permit the injured individual to frame a relationship with the soul.

In any case, the unfortunate casualty is dependent upon interminable repossession, which is treated by rehashing the equation. This equation includes the arrangement and utilization of a dish of ensete, margarine, and red pepper. During this custom, the unfortunate casualty’s head is secured with a wrap, and he eats the ensete avariciously while other ceremonial members serenade.

The ceremonial closures when having soul reports that it is fulfilled. Shack noticed that the unfortunate casualties are overwhelmingly poor men and that ladies are not as nourishment denied as men are because of ceremonial exercises that include nourishment redistribution and utilization. Shack proposes that the awre serves to carry the head man to the focal point of social consideration and to assuage his nerves over his powerlessness to pick up esteem from redistributing nourishment, which is the essential manner by which Gurage men gain status in their general public.

The consuming of the Meskel enormous campfire (Demera) on Mount Tabor, Ethiopia. Lately, the Gurage are for the most part Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, yet also practice Islam, Roman Catholicism, and conventional strict convictions. Both Christianity and Islam were outside religions forced on the Gurage by Invasion. Over half case loyalty to Christianity and another 40% to Islam.

Gurage Clothing

Before we see Gurage traditional clothing, lets define the term traditional clothes mean and what makes it traditional. Traditional dress might be characterized as the outfit of articles of clothing, adornments, and extras established in the past that is worn by a recognizable gathering of individuals. Even though slight changes after some time in shading, structure, and material are recognized, the collection is by all accounts passed on unaltered from an earlier time.

Custom made dress or ensemble is a way of showing of culture. It invokes pictures of rustic individuals wearing beautiful, layered, fascinating attire from a glorified past in some faraway spot. This idea of the customary dress has been examined and discovered lacking by numerous analysts and researchers, yet its uncritical use proceeds into the twenty-first century. The expression customary dress or outfit is frequently utilized reciprocally with the terms-ethnic, provincial, and society dress.

Shack in 1957 and 1959 in Gurage, in his field of research, wrote: ‘There are no local wage markets in any Gurage village and the vast majority migrate to Addis Ababa. There is a change in the need of the customer as the market change, the introduction of new material and annual income growth. It affects Gurage on village Life at that time, very dramatic changes must have occurred so that this description written by Shack thirty years ago, is no longer a reality in Gurage village society. The changes in Gurage material culture such as traditional clothes.

Dressing in modern clothes brought back by the young generation who lived in modern cities and urban. Then it considered by the villagers as an index of civilization. It is due to them (young generation) that the rural Gurage opened their eyes. and become civilized in terms, of their dressing, education, health services, roads, and everything. In the past, the Gurage clothing were made of animal skins, such as cow or oxen-skin. clothes locally known as mere for adult men and geta for women, and sheep and goat skin-made dresses locally called Nimad, of two different sizes for very young and adults. These clothes were Locally made by special artisans locally known as Buda i.e. tanners.

Also, other cotton-made traditional clothes such as Gider and Buliko garments for well-to-do adult women and men respectively; and Netela for the ordinary persons. These cotton-made dresses, known as Fafuya. were locally made by the Shamer, i.e. weavers.

Then, during the earlier and middle periods off an onset, other synthetic fabrics such as Abujedid (calico)and kaki garments were introduced and people began to weirs hand-sewn calico pants called Serefer and shirts called Ejetebab for adult males. They previously wore traditional belts called Tibtab, i.e made from cotton-garment for men and Azigart for women as well as men; and a hat made from Enewa, a dry stalk of Asat, which is locally called Wehembua.

Later, starting from the Italian occupation and after, different clothes prepared from processed fabrics and shoes have been introduced into the Gurage villages. As such, traditional clothes hand-made from animal skins and cotton were replaced by synthetic clothes, because the diseases (resulting from being dressed in traditional clothes) that existed in the country (Gurage village) are now eliminated.

As such, this change in clothing is considered not only as a sign of modernity but also as an agent responsible for improving the health status of the villagers. Improvements in housing is another positively perceived effect of those modern generations of Gurage.

Gurage and housing

Construction and the purchase of household objects are the distinguishing characteristics of migration-caused change in the village. One can detect the presence of a member in a household by looking at the size and quality of the house, and the types of household utensils available within the house.

In pre-migration times, household utensils had been predominantly Locally produced either by special local artisans such as potters, woodworkers, tanners, and iron-smiths or by odium people. Clay-made objects such as bitter, (bowls of various sizes and quality), Enjapa (containers used to drink water, milk, or traditional drinks such as Seher) and Tiwa (small containers used to drink Seher) were traditionally hung on the walls in the houses.

These are now being replaced by bowls, trays, glasses, and Jenricans. Different sizes of clay-made containers, Like and Weshere, used to carry water, and Gambo Weshere, used to brew Seher, are now being replaced by plastic and iron-made containers of different sizes. Clay-made traditional coffee-cups called Fujan have been completely replaced by glass cups and are no longer present in households.

Also, wooden utensils such as different types of Wagemas -Yeje. Yesafira and Gebete and eating objects made from grass and parts of Asat plant such as Sefe, and sleeping objects like Jipe and Kapuat as well as Guchigiche are disappearing as a result of remitted objects. In particular, Gebete, (a wooden-tray) and Yewedere, (an eating mat) have traditionally been considered as marks of respected women, because such household utensils are traditionally referred to as Yeshita Gibir, i.e women’s objects.

These items are being replaced by metal trays. Moreover, Ankefue the local material has been dominated by new material introduce to the culture, iron create a loss of identity by simplifying activities, spoons made from animal horns. In the majority of modern households, and in particular the successful ones, the utensils hung on the walls are predominantly remitted objects, which are locally referred to Yazeber giber, i.e. modem objects. Possession of such household objects is also regarded as a mark of modernity.

Therefore, it seems that the modern generation and the flows of commodities that result have negatively affected the local technology, particularly local artifacts. The current Gurage society is attracted to modern clothing that Gurage clothing. It might face a loss of identity. So as much as possible we have to give attention to our tradition and culture

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