Hand weaving has been a way of life for centuries in Ethiopia. Even today, almost all the traditional Ethiopian clothing is made on hand looms. The art of weaving is passed down from father to son, thus almost all weavers in Ethiopia are men. The techniques have not changed much for centuries but the patterns, colors and designs have become increasingly sophisticated.
According to Richard Pankhurst, the first weavers were Muslims and Jews who travelled in nomadic bands and set up their looms on the verandas of noblemen. Now, there is an estimated 200,000 + hand loom weavers in Ethiopia. The Konso and Dorze ethnic groups have the reputation of being the most “skilled” weavers, though weavers can be found in every village in the country. They remain a quite marginalized group and most still only work in the informal sector. As such, the art of weaving is disappearing as the newer generation is choosing to leave the trade.
There are thousands of hand loom weavers throughout Ethiopia who are skilled and able to work. Sabahar helps by providing them a consistent income, which keeps them from leaving their trade.
Sabahar wants to preserve the craft of Ethiopian hand weaving. By providing a market for these beautiful pieces, we hope to showcase the talents of Ethiopian weavers to the world. Sabahar employs about 85 weavers at the workshop and in their homes. Many come from the Konso and Dorze ethnic groups and have relocated to Addis Ababa. We also work with a collective of weavers in Arba Minch in southern Ethiopia.
Each piece is a work of art, patiently created by a talented Ethiopian artisan. A weaver can produce one to three scarves in a day depending on the level of detail of the design.
Hand loom weavers in Ethiopia are incredibly skilled. Sabahar wants to preserve the craft and provide the world the opportunity to see the amazing work they do.