Session 1: Craft Works and Livelihood
Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
This presentation deals with weaving and livelihood patterns among the Dorze. The term Dorze refers to both the community that lives in the Gamo highlands, southwestern Ethiopia, and the geographical area inhabited by the same community. The Dorze are known in Ethiopia for their two prominent features: their fine weaving profession and their high rate of rural-urban migration. The two features are intimately interrelated. Weaving encourages rural-urban migration since the demand for woven goods is concentrated in urban centers. Indeed the history of Dorze weavers’ migration goes back to the incorporation of the Gamo highlands into the Ethiopian empire in 1898. It was from this period on that Dorze weavers started migrating first to Addis Ababa and then to other major urban centers where their profession was in high demand.
Migration of weavers significantly affects Dorze’s livelihood pattern. Weavers migrate to urban areas leaving their families in villages. Weavers do not migrate with the intention of staying in urban areas for life and, in most cases; they maintain strong links with their families and rural community. They visit their families on regular bases; cover seasonal and gross household expenses such as land tax payment. However, in most cases the money they send is not enough to cover the day-to-day household expenses. Women engage in income generating activities to fill this gap.
Male weavers’ migration diminishes the role of men in the farm and household management. This gap again is to be filled in by women’s activities. In fact, women’s roles and responsibilities in the Dorze community are paramount. In the absence of their husbands, women take over farm and household management. They also engage in petty trades and other income generating activities in order to cover the day-to-day household expenses. Though men dominate weaving, women monopolize the production of shallo (hand spun cotton thread). Selling shallo is an important source of income for the majority of Dorze women. The role of women in farming is also prominent: women manure farm plots and weed and harvest barely. They are also responsible for manuring enset grove, harvesting and processing enset. Women organize themselves in labor networks locally called yusho (plural yushota) to accomplish different livelihood activities. For instance, they have a yusho for enset harvesting, another yusho for spinning cotton thread and still another yusho for transporting manure to distant farm plots.
This presentation forwards the following tentative conclusion. Livelihood of the Dorze is characterized by three precarious but interdependent economic activities: weaving, farming and petty trade. 1) Though weaving affects the overall livelihood of the Dorze, its contribution is precarious. Migrant weavers send remittances but the money they sent covers only certain household expenses. 2) Farming does not provide sufficient amount of food: food crop productivity is low because of shortage of labour, dependency on hired labour, poor soil and small landholdings. 3) Women engage in petty trading though the profit they generate does not go beyond covering routine household expenses. However, the role of women in farming, household management and petty trades is a vital component of livelihood of the Dorze.
Key Words: Dorze, migration, weaving, Gamo, petty trade
The Case of Open Firing Practice among the Ari Potters in Southwestern Ethiopia
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science/
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS), Kyoto University, Japan
This presentation defines Ari pottery making as local knowledge that is constructed from the potters’ experience of their relationships with the natural environment and their social relationships with users and relatives. It also identifies the characteristics of the open-firing technique of Ari potters in southwestern Ethiopia. Ari potters are involved in every step of the process, from digging clay to shaping and firing pots, and then selling their pots in local markets. Although the potters’ husbands work small fields, the families earn their income from pottery making in most cases.
Experiments examining the ratio of contraction and water absorption of clay showed that Ari potters prevent the pots from exploding, even when the temperature of open-firing increases drastically, by mixing plenty of ground shards with the clay. Ari potters have achieved an effective way of making durable pots with a minimum of time and resources, as they are very concerned about the amount and species of plants used for fuel and their control over the firing process.
In the analysis of the Ari vocabulary used to evaluate the traits of the pots that emerge from making to selling them, I found that the specific folk categories malki and aani for evaluating durability and quality were common to both makers and users. I also found that Ari potters explain the breakage of pots during open-firing by using aani expressions.
In conclusion, I describe how the evaluation and operation of the open-firing techniques used in pottery making are influenced by the various human-material relationships involved in making and classifying pots, and the human-human relationships involved in exchanging pots.
Key Words: Pots, pottery making, open-firing, Ari, Ethiopia