Historical Background      

One of the most important and widely spread occupations of most Ethiopian, next to farming is handcraft. Ethiopians earliest recorded history dates back to more than two thousands and five hundred years. These facts are in themselves sufficient to explain the extra ordinary diversity of art and craft found among the many cultures of the peoples of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian people, like Europeans before the Industrial revolution, at the beginning of the remote civilization evolved the skills of spinning, weaving, pottery, basketry, black smith, etc that met the economic viability and the historical conditions of development of handicrafts which in turn had attracted the eyes of many authors.

Parchment Design

ost historians have discovered much of the customs and Industrial growth at the very instance. A well-known historian professor Richard Pankrust had admirably described this as. “The Ethiopian people at an early dates evolved a handcraft Industry
such as making knives, spearheads, ploughs and other implements from iron which met their every day needs. They span and wove both cotton and wool, producing excellent and often beautiful clothing.

They preserved and tanned ox hides sheep and other skins as well as saddles, bridles and halters for their mules and horses. They also produced good quality pots and jars, wove attractive wicker baskets,manufactured useful articles of horn and fashioned exquisite gold,silver,bronze ornaments,crosses,jewelry and carpets of many colors. We can say that our ancient people made many types of crafts consumable goods that provided with nearly all manufactured goods to the society hence, handicrafts served as a means of subsistence for thousands of people both in urban and rural regions of the country.

Traditional Handloom Dress
Through times, handicraft industry expanded and flourished most in variety, quality and quantity. In fact the artistically crafts for churches, kings and high officials were sought to enhance their surroundings with elegant handicrafts. The gradual improvements of crafts facilitated the improvement of the standard of living of the middle class people who raised and used to consume produces of crafts, as a result significant amount of goods were produced, however crude the craft were gave way to market expansion and hence civilization.

istory witnessed that the development of craft were very slow and took places in or around places where kings were settling. In this regards the greatest specialization in the 19th century occurred at Gonder, Ankober, Adowa, Harrar and Antalo, which were capital of the country with a large population or else places of religious patronage and asylum. Ethiopian handcrafts have historically been and still are both a skill and way of life. Visitors to Ethiopia could thus experience for themselves what is a living museum of a most diverse culture where the old coexists with the new, in harmony in everyday life of the people of Ethiopia. There is a very large number of culture groups in Ethiopia and it is not surprising that the range of handcrafts should be so enormous and their styles so varied.

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