Clothing

Women’s traditional clothes are made from a cotton cloth called shemma, used to make habesha qemis which are about 90 cm wide, woven in long strips which are then sewn together. Sometimes shiny threads are woven into the fabric for an elegant effect. It takes about two to three weeks to make enough cloth for one dress. The bottom of the garment may be ornamented with patterns. The dresses are usually white with some color above the lower hem. Bracelets and necklaces of silver or gold are worn on arms and feet to complete the look. A variety of designer dinner dresses combining traditional fabric with modern style are now worn by some ladies in the cities. When going to church, women cover their hair and pull the upper ends of the shawl about their shoulders reproducing a cross (meskelya), with the shiny threads appearing at the edge. At funerals a black shawl is worn and the shiny threads appear at the bottom (madegdeg). Often, a woman will cover her head with a shash, a cloth that is tied at the neck. Shama and kuta, gauze-like white fabrics, are often used. This is common among both Muslim and Christian women. Elderly women will wear a sash on a day-to-day basis, while other women only wear a sash also called a netela while attending church.
Men wear pants and a knee-length shirt with a white collar, and perhaps a sweater. Men often wear knee-high socks, while women might not wear socks at all. Men as well as women wear shawls, the neTela. In Ethiopia these traditional clothes are still worn on a day-to-day-basis in the countryside. In cities and towns, western clothes are popular, though on special occasions, such as New Year (Enkutatash), Christmas (Genna) or weddings, some wear traditional clothes.