Ethiopia…Traditional Since the Beginning

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Ethiopia is the only African nation to resist colonization by European powers, and so, has also been able to resist the distortion of their culture. Ethiopia maintains all of their traditional attires and practices. The style has become more modern overtime, but still stays true to their history. The Oromo women of eastern Ethiopia are deeply invested in their traditional fashion because it allows them access to their own particular kinds of uniqueness.

Through their style of dress, Oromo women are not only connected to their culture, but also their religion and familial values. They connect to the larger Oromo identity through bodily expressions usually found on the neck, face, and in the hair. The three main body arts found in the Oromo culture are a beaded necklace called ambarka, a beaded headband called qarma, and facial markings known as kula. Even though each Oromo woman constructs her own individual style, they still adhere to cultural fashion principles. Their fashion sense constantly reflects the notions of family, individuality, value, and memory. Their bodily ornamentation become wearable markers that constantly credit past Oromo heritage in the same way the music of our time pay tribute to the musicians of the past.

For more information, read Contemporary Expressive Culture in Ethiopia in African Arts Vol. 42(1), pg. 54-63

Picture from Bale Mountains

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