Ethiopian Culture and History

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Ethiopia – The Oldest Civilization
The Great Blacks in Wax Museum

The culture I decided to experience was the ancient culture of Ethiopia. The Great Blacks in Wax Museum introduced me to this most ancient but formally organized culture that still influences governing systems today. An intriguing fact about Ethiopia is that it is world’s oldest civilization and the founder of Egypt another old and great civilization. Ethiopian, also originally known as Sheba, history begins its existence around 10th century B.C. by Solomon’s first son, Melenik I, who the Queen of Sheba was the supposed to have mothered. Its documented history begins in the ancient city of Askum in about 2nd century AD, thus making it one of oldest independent African nations and one of the most ancient cultures in the entire world. The exhibit provided an excellent array of facts about Ethiopian life, history, culture, tradition and government. The display also showed a number of ancient Ethiopian artifacts as well as lifelike wax figures of some of Ethiopian rulers and leaders. The Ethiopian exhibit at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum displayed how this country and its culture is the world’s oldest civilization and it is responsible for many systems and values that are still continued throughout the world today.

The artifacts in this exhibit were interesting and varied greatly in purpose and practical use. There were no artist or artisans noted in the exhibit. All the artifacts date back to the age of the history of the Ethiopians around 10th century B.C. Understanding the ancient history helps explained some of the artifacts in the exhibit. The spear was shown in many different areas of the display. The spear was an essential part of the history from the earliest historical days especially since there were many tribal wars within and from external opposition. It was used for a variety of uses including as a weapon in wartime as well as a tool to kill animals for consumption. It was individually handcrafted of a two-part tool/weapon with a spear head (arrow-like from sharpen rock) and a shaft kept together with a sturdy vine to hold the parts together. It often had etchings, paint from berry dyes, or adornment of some kind. The spear is often shown and was used by the males in the villages and was proudly displayed in rituals including war dance, tribal dances to denote power and virility. It was a daily part of the Ethiopian life.

Another artifact that was prevalent in the display was masks of a variety of materials, expressions, and sizes. The mask was an important part of the Ethiopian traditional and cultural rites and rituals. The masks were often used during celebrations including religious ones and part of medical rituals. The masks were handcrafted from fine wood and painted with paints made from dyes of berries and fruits. The masks were also used in wartime in confrontation with enemy warriors. The masks were used to celebrate joyous events also. The masks is still crafted and used in traditional celebrations in Ethiopia today.

There were many ancient instruments displayed in the exhibit. The instruments include an ancient guitar like instrument made form handcrafted wood, animal with vines for strumming. There were many different types of drums and bongo type instruments. These drums were made from handcrafted fine wood with animal skins pulled across the open wood tube and tied with vine or rope. These drums were used for a variety of uses included celebratory traditions, communicating across distance of danger, need, or information. Music and ceremonial dance were an everyday part of ancient Ethiopian and this musical tradition is still greatly part of Ethiopian culture. The Ethiopian cultures appreciation for intricate color, design and hand-dyed fabrics is prevalent in their ancient culture and their instruments were decorated and adorned as well. The original cultural attire today differ not much from their ancient ancestors...
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