A Descriptive and Interpretive Documentation of Enemor Household Utensils

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Addis Ababa University


This is a qualitative study conducted to identify, classify, describe and document the house utensils of Enemor in an effort to document endangered elements of material culture of the Enemor people in south Ethiopia. To achieve this general objective, participant and non-participant observations and unstructured interviews were used to gather relevant data. The audio-video and image data collected from Enemor consultants were digitally documented and employed for the data analysis in the study. The data analysis revealed that the following research findings are worth considering in any effort geared towards documenting and preserving cultural household utensils of the Enemor people in this age of globalization. The current free market economic policy of Ethiopia appears to have opened many socio-cultural and business opportunities for foreign household utensils produced by different foreign factories (for instance, from China) to dominate domestic household utensils produced by factories in Ethiopia in terms of price and quality. Due to this, the Enemor people seem to have been attracted towards these foreign household utensils instead of frequently producing and using their indigenous cultural household utensils. Thus, the level of endangerment of their indigenous knowledge of producing the utensils has been increasing from time to time. The utensils identified are made of different kinds of raw materials. From enset and qia, they produce endera, quachiqiche, kap’wat, itfoko, and chefad. There are utensils produced from bamboo tree such as sisha, tekuya (in different size and shape), and satera. Mektefia, zenb’were, sheta, and yechuceqye are produced from zigeba tree. There are also house utensils produced from clay soil such as bitter and jebena. i The common utilities of the utensils are linked with the day to day activities of the community. They utilize some of the house utensils for cooking, serving and sleeping. They produce the utensils to subsidize their livelihood, to offer as a present and to decorate their house. Most frequently women are involved in the production and sale of the utensils. The utensils on brink of extinction are inajapa, container to drink water, milk and traditional drinks, and finjan, lit. coffee cups, which are made of clay. Ankefue which is produced from animal horn and wooden utensils waqema, yeje, yegir and gebete are no more produced in the community. On the whole, it is recommended that stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, cultural departments of the government, the Enemor community) should work together and identify possible ways of preserving the indigenous Enemor knowledge and practices of producing and using the household utensils. They need to involve researchers for further research on issues out of the scope of this study. Eventually, such initiatives can result in reliable ways of transmitting the Enemor culture of producing and using the utensils to the future generation.