How did it start? What makes someone collect Ethiopian hairpins?
My favourite areas have always been the Sahara, even as a child, I dreamed of going there and riding on camels through the sand. Of course the Tuareg culture found its way to me, I read about it, got to know Tuareg who lived in France, and collected their items, supported Tuareg families in the Niger and Mali, joined Atlik and Tatit, two Tuareg aid organizations in France. This continued for many years and I have a small collection of Sahara and Tuareg items. I travelled to countries in the Sahara, i..e. Morocco, Tunisia and Mali. Then I felt, I needed to get another collection area, because many objects that were available at that time, I had already.
By accident I got to know a German seller, who travels regularly to Ethiopia and Niger. He offered me some Ethiopian hairpins, and other items. I never had seen the hairpins before, but I also liked other Ethiopian items. So I started to search information about Ethiopia, its history : the Queen of Saba and King Salomon, and their connection to the Bible, the arch of the covenant, etc. It was very fascinating! Similar to my beloved Mali (my husbands land), Ethiopia consists of many ethnic groups, and is very fascinating to those with a love for Africa and to discover people and things. It is with most things: the more you know about, the more you realize how little you know and that you need to continue searching!
The North of Ethiopia has caught me first with its churches, some of them cut deeply into rocks, and the strong belief of these people and their historical background. It is fascinating to read about the many peoples and languages, e.g. the Oromo, Tigrina, etc, But then, also the south holds many wonders, it seemed to me like a basket full of various fruit in all shapes and colours! I am still discovering new peoples and things. What a wonderful world we live in (if there would be no wars….!).
In the south, there are ethnicities with animistic background, completely different from the North, and they are many different peoples, e.g. the Mursi ( known for their lip plates), Sidama, Konso, Dassanech, Dorze, Surma, Arbore, etc. The list is long and names alone are not really informative.
One needs to find literature, that is not always easy! But sometimes you find things by chance!
My hairpins are so far only from Northern Ethiopia. By now, I have collected 18 pieces, and quite a number of other items from various ethnicities in Ethiopia, but still looking for hairpins. It is not easy to find new ones. I know from the Ethnic Jewels community website www.ethnicjewels.ning.com member Ingrid and her photos that there are more different ones from the ones I have…..so I am still on the hunt for new additions….. sooner or later, I will get some! And yes, I do wear some occasionally. A favourite is one with 7 dangles, I wear it sometimes as a single earring with a piece of earplug cut into the right size to fix it behind the ear…. (this because I lost it once, in the Zoo, before I fixed it this way. I was shocked about the loss, went back to the Zoo one hour later and walked all the way back again with little or no hope- …… and found it (!), smiling at me on the asphalt in front of the elephant’s house! For this, I must put a smile here!
In the meantime, I admire the other pieces shown on the Ethnic Jewels community website, there are so many wonderful ones, from Amber items to Berber hair adornments, to shell-and-leather pendants, there are many on my „wish list“. Perhaps the fascination continues because I cannot just go and buy what I please. The recent Amber discussions on the Ethnic Jewels community website have also caught my interest! But it seems a costly matter! I love the amber pieces!!! And all hair adornments!
My conclusion: If you have to wait until the object is available AND that you have enough funds to buy it, it makes it more desirable. That is – I suppose – the joy of collecting: Things that are too easily available, do not catch our glimpse with the same hunger.
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