The steep hills and rocky soil in Konso have led the people there to create unique terracing that sweeps across each knoll with a circular grace. This pattern, seen throughout the countryside, is reflected in the double thatched roofs of Konso houses and in the layered skirts of Konso women. Despite their often dry landscape, the Konso people bring vibrancy to their everyday lives through their clothing and craft. Local textiles are alive with bright orange, yellow, and red colors and used by most in their everyday clothing. Women wear owa skirts, usually with two layers that created a rhythmic swing when they walk, and men wear barteta, blue and orange woolen shorts.
Most notable among Konso craft is the waka, wooden sculptures created to pay tribute to heroes and warriors. Used as funerary statues, the waka erected to commemorate the brave and heroic lives of Konso men. With the likeness of a human figure, the wakas are usually erected in groups with the hero in the middle and statues of his family and possessions around him. The details on the wakas face and the adornments that each waka wears provide details of his life and feats. The Konso Cultural Museum has a splendid display of wakas.
Jewelry is also of cultural significance in Konso. Artisans string beads to make necklaces, bracelets, anklets, waist ornaments, and rings and beaded jewelry is passed down from mother to daughter or given as a gift. Beaded jewelry often denotes a woman's status in life. Girls wear strands of beads around their waist while mothers wear two strands on each ankle and grandmothers one strand. The number of blue beads in the anklets indicates the gender of their children. Men also use beads with young boys wearing white beads or cowry shells for protection and men of high ritual status donning dark blue transparent glass beads.
Other Konso crafts include pottery, wood carving, embroidery, lace making, and earthworks. They can be seen at the Konso Cultural Museum (near the Kanta Lodge). The museum has a range of antique and ethnographic objects as well as a stunning permanent exhibit on the waka.
Wendmanach Weaver Association
Sales Outlet: Komaya Heart of Konso Cultural Handcraft Market, located on the road to Jinka pass Kanta Lodge. Items are also sold at the Kanta Lodge gift shop.
Location: Konso, SNNPR, Ethiopia
Contact: Ato Sagoya Gashute at +251 191 049 8685 (Amharic only)
The Wendmanach Weavers Association is comprised of 5 men and 5 women that create wonderful, natural textiles and embroidery. The boluko, a heavy cloth made from natural colored cotton, is traditional to this part of Ethiopia and is combined with colorful woven yarn to create ethnic home décor items and fashion accessories.