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Shopping in Ethiopia

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Shopping in Ethiopia

If you are looking for souvenirs from Ethiopia you should read this.

Before knowing what to buy in Ethiopia, you have to bear in mind that this African country stands out for its handicrafts. Wood, materials, ceramics, wickerwork, leather, metalwork and jewellery are some of the typical Ethiopian products that you will be able to take away with you.

On your trip to Ethiopia it will be almost impossible not to stop in a shop or market to see the local crafts. But as well as handicrafts, the star product of the country is coffee, which is considered one of the best in the world.


Ethiopian coffee

Ethiopia produces an average of 250 thousand tonnes of coffee each year, of which most is exported.  Within this production, there are three varieties: Arabica, Robusta and Arabica-Robusta.  In addition, they produce as much using the wet method, as the dry depends on the area of the country.

The history of coffee in Ethiopia dates back to the 19th century when a goat herder discovered some coffee beans.  From this moment, coffee became more and more important in Ethiopian culture, to the point of there being a coffee ceremony.  Just like the Japanese with tea, when it comes to drinking a cup of coffee in Ethiopia, they celebrate it with a coffee ceremony.

Make the most of your trip to go to one of these ceremonies and taste the three types of coffee from the strongest to the mildest. And whilst you're there, don’t miss the chance to buy a good sample of coffee as a souvenir of Ethiopia.


Materials: Shema

Shema is a cotton material measuring 90 centimetres which is used to make traditional dress for Ethiopian women.  Making a dress with this material can take up to three weeks.  They are bright in colour and there are finishes that range from the simplest to the most elegant.

A good souvenir of Ethiopia could be buying one of these pieces of material to make your own quilt, or as a cushion cover, or even a wall hanging. 


Ethiopian wickerwork

Wickerwork rises to the category of Art in Ethiopia, after coffee it is one of the best-known typical Ethiopian products. The colour and designs will make it difficult to choose between them. The Mesob, for example, is used to serve the typical dish of Ethiopia (injera) and is the top selling product.

Wickerwork is often embroidered with brightly coloured wool, something that is attractive to tourists.  Without a doubt, it will look great in any part of the home as a souvenir of Ethiopia.


Ethiopian jewellery

Throughout Africa, the use of decorations and jewellery is closely related to culture, religion and customs.  Both men and women enjoy wearing beautiful beaded necklaces, bangles and headdresses.

To make the jewellery fish bones are used, as well as feathers, wood and silver.  Ethiopians are skilled metalsmiths, so it is one of the things to buy in Ethiopia, and it isn’t unusual to find true works of art in jewellery.  You can take home high quality necklaces, bracelets and bangles made totally by hand. 


Wooden figures

Wood is a widely used material throughout Africa to make figures that represent animals, humans and Gods. In Ethiopia of course, you can find excellent samples of wood carving.

In general, the figures have religious or magical significance and are usually used as charms.  What better typical Ethiopian product than a wooden figure that brings you good luck.  Another option is one of the many wooden warrior masks or masks of protective Gods for the home.  Whatever you choose, you’ll no doubt get it right, the work it takes to carve them is worthy of appreciation. 


Musical instruments

If you like music, this country will surprise you in many ways.  Its musical instruments are collector’s items, the Krar for example, is a six-stringed lyre with a hypnotic sound.  Within the family of wind instruments you have the Washint, which is a flute made of bamboo, or the Holdudwa (made of animal horn).

But if one thing characterises the whole of Africa is undoubtedly percussion and it is exactly the same in Ethiopia.  Drums such as the Kebero, Nagarit or Atamo are typical of Ethiopian traditions and are used in religious ceremonies.

And if you still don’t know what to buy in Ethiopia, another option is to buy something tasty from its rich gastronomy. You can buy fermented teff flour, or a bag of berbere (mixture of spices). And to go with it, don’t forget to buy a bottle of tej, Ethiopian mead that will remind you of your trip.

Now you can make your list of preferences and get ready to visit the markets in Ethiopia.  You will definitely come back with lots of Ethiopian souvenirs that you will love.

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