new icn messageflickr-free-ic3d pan white

Africa - Ethiopia / Konso teenagegirl

Unlike most Ethiopian peoples, the Konso live in large towns, each governed by an independent council of elders. The social status of all males, and of some females, is defined by a generation-grading system. Although a generation grade supposedly encompasses the men in an entire region, it does not actually function beyond each town's borders and therefore does not prevent conflicts between towns. Kinship is reckoned in nine existence clans and in lineages that are headed by priests and through which property is inherited. Craftsmen form a distinct social class. Although polygyny is accepted, few men can afford more than one wife.

The economy of the Konso rests on an exceptionally intensive agriculture involving irrigation and terracing of mountain slopes. Corn is the staple crop, and cotton and coffee are cash crops. To protect the fields the Konso maintain their cattle in stalls and feed them by hand. They use both the milk and the meat of cattle and the meat of sheep and goats as food, and the animals' dung is collected for fertilizer. Numerous other animals are taboo as food.

The Konso are notable for the erection of wagas, memorial statues to a dead man who has killed an enemy or an animal such as a lion or a leopard. These stylized wooden carvings are arranged in groups, representing the man, his wives, and his vanquished adversaries.

14,195 views
23 faves
25 comments
Taken on August 21, 2008