The Socio-Economic Role and Status of Handicraftsmen among the Kambaata of Southern Ethiopia

Article English OPEN
Abbute, Wolde-Selassie (2013)
  • Publisher: Universität Hamburg, Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies
  • Journal: Aethiopica (issn: 2194-4024, eissn: 1430-1938)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.15460/aethiopica.4.1.492
  • Subject: Ethiopian Studies | Anthropology; Handicrafts; Art; Kambaata; Southern Ethiopia; Social Status; Discrimination; Potters; Tanners; | ddc:300 | ddc:320 | ddc:330 | ddc:360 | ddc:390 | ddc:960

Although traditional handicraftsmen play an indispensable economic and socio-cultural role within the society, they have been marginalized and segregated by the peasant population in southern Ethiopia. The handicraftsmen produce a wide range of production, household consumption and defence tools and implements. Besides, they have an important socio-cultural role as ritual performers, initiators, drummers, musicians, entertainers, operators, professional mourners, traditional medical experts, etc. during several social life events. However, despite their important role in multiple contexts, they are despised and prejudiced against by the peasant population. They are kept away and segregated from the rest of the society, being considered as unclean, and restricted in many ways, including limitation to endogamous marriage.This study examines the ambiguous and ambivalent position of the handicraftsmen, as well as their mutual interdependence within the peasant population by investigating the particular case of potters   and smiths among the Kambaata of southern Ethiopia.