Two Visits to Mugär Gädam, Šäwa

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Pankhurst, Richard (2013)
  • Publisher: Universität Hamburg, Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies
  • Journal: Aethiopica (issn: 2194-4024, eissn: 1430-1938)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.15460/aethiopica.4.1.495
  • Subject: Ethiopian Studies | Mugär Gädam; Monastery; Christianity; Art; Handicrafts; Säwa; Šäwa; | ddc:230 | ddc:300 | ddc:700 | ddc:740

The article describes two field trips to a little-known craftsman’s gädam, or monastery, in northern Šäwa. This institution, which, like other such monasteries in the region, probably dates from the late seventeenth or early eighteenh century, seems to have come into existance as a result of the rise of the Šäwan state. This development apparently attracted Fälaša, or Judaic, craftsmen — weavers, blacksmiths and potters — from the Gondär area, who at some uncertain stage were converted to Christianity.The gädam today consists of monks and nuns, who practice the traditionally “marginalised occupations” of blacksmith, weaver, and potter. Though nominally Christian, they have retained several traits which seem more “Judaic” than those of the highland Christian population at large.