The Dorze Tribe: - A Rich Weaving Tradition

They are one of the small segments of the great Omotic language group of southern Ethiopia. Once warriors, they now earn their living by farming and weaving. The Dorze name is synonymous with the best in woven cotton cloth and the tall-up bee-hive shaped bamboo house. There is quite a big Dorze community living and weaving on the northern part of Addis, on the way to Entoto. These peoples rarely use the administrative and police force of the city. They settle all disputes in their usual cultural way, through their elders.

The Dorze are numbering approximately 28,000, they live primarily in the southern region of the country, though some have migrated to Addis Ababa and other regions. Many Dorze live in villages near the cities of Chencha and Arba Minch, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (formerly in the Gamu-Gofa province). Weaving is a primary profession for many Dorze. They also are farmers, who prevent soil erosion, by ingenious terracing of the mountainside. Around their huts they have their own little garden with vegetables, spices, but also tobacco and enset (false-banana or Musa ensete). The Dorze people are famous for their huge huts, resembling a giant beehive. Although these huts look fragile, they can last up to 60 years. The huts can also be transported to another locations, thanks to the structure made of vertical poles. Every hut hat a sort of ''nose'' at its south side, serving as reception room. After our eyes were accustomed at the rather darkness, coming from the full sunlight, it was interesting to see the construction of the hut from the inside. It’s surprising the large space in the hut when outside it looked so small. In the middle of the hut there is an open fire for cooking. There are also low benches to sit around the fire. Along the walls are located sleeping places and places for storage.

When you visit a Dorze hut, you can experience its huge size and its construction. The about 12 metres high huts, looking like a beehive, are constructed with vertical hardwood poles and wover bamboo and have thatched roofs of enset (false-banana). So these huts are constructed with the natural materials of the area. Looking at these huts, you can hardly imagine, that these huts can last up to 60 years, if not termites will attack them.