Ethiopian Handicrafts      
Handloom Products  

History witnessed that the development of crafts 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 cultural groups in Ethiopia and it is not surprising that the range of handcrafts should be so enormous and their styles so varied.

Hand woven Carpet  

The charm and lasting value of an article made by hand depends largely on the intrinsic beauty or enduring utility created by the maker and these qualities in turn depends on the initial design, the craftsmanship and painstaking effort with which it was developed.

Two types of carpets are available from Ethiopia; knotted and woven.  All carpets are handmade from the wool of the fat
toweled sheeps of the Ethiopian highlands.  The wool is hand spun and is washed and sun-dried before weaving.


The Ethiopian baskets are made and used traditionally in the rural area.  Closed baskets with lids are used for storing grains, seed and food that is used for daily consumption.  Large and medium, open bowl shaped basket are used by women for carrying item on their heads. The small open bowls shaped are used for fruit and bread server. Harer is known for having the finest basketry, with a reputation for design and craftsmanship spreading far beyond the borders of Ethiopia to the East of Africa & other parts of the world.

These baskets are made
by the “coil technique”, in which a bundle of dried grass is wrapped with threads of grass or straw and bound together in spiral to create a round or dish distinctive in that they are produced mainly for their decorative value and have considerable social and ritual significance.

There is evidence of early settlement in the Horn of Africa from about 1000B.C. When South Arabians crossed the Red sea and brought with them knowledge of agriculture and various arts and crafts. Excavations at Adulis near the cost at a depth of 18mt (indicates considerable antiquity) have revealed pots and vases of black clay decorated with red clay or "slip" which has been scratched to reveal the black beneath.

Today's Potters produce many beautiful shapes of traditional ceramic (water pots, cooking pots “tela” jars, coffee pots and cups and bowls of all sizes etc)Objects handed down from generations past are to be preserved, while the quality of the clay itself, and the firing process h
as to be improved so that pots can be transported without fear of breakage.
Shema Borsa
A vast wealth of silver, coarse metal or bead jewellery is produced simply for personal adornment. The  18th and 19th century travelers to Ethiopia commended frequently by the amount and variety of jewellery worn by women though earrings, bracelets and anklets are worn by men as well.

There are several design of jewellery made by Harari (walled city, the center of intricate silver work in the 16th century) Gonderian, Lalibela and Axum styles.  Each design represents its own symbolic meaning.

Bamboo is used to produce assorted bamboo products that ranges from shelves, telephone tables, bee hives, partitions flower vase, lamp sheds, sofa, table and chairs, bags, photo frames, baskets, shutters and assorted interior decorations etc.  These products are made from either highland or lowland bamboos.
The church of Debre Damo, dating from the 4th century, stands as a monument to the Axumite architectural style and is still in use today.  The carver follows a traditional technique using a small metal hand axe and a sharp knife for details.
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