The Konso of southwestern Ethiopia are a Cushitic-speaking people living in densely populated stone-walled towns, often on the summits of hills or at other easily defensible sites. They are intensive agriculturists, using animal and human manure, and terracing. The traditional Konso ethos emphasizes communal life and masculinity reflected, in part, by collectively maintained ritual spaces, and by men’s houses decorated with clusters of stone stelae and anthropomorphic wood sculptures commemorating idealized images of war heroes, famous ancestors and lineage heads.
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Africa --Eastern Africa
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Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where necessary.
The eHRAF Konso collection covers a range of cultural, historical and economic information on the Konso people of southwestern Ethiopia. Time coverage of the documents largely spans from 1897, when the Konso were incorporated into the Ethiopian empire, to the early-2000s; Hallpike (2008) provides significant historical reconstruction back to the sixteenth century. Ethnographic fieldwork for the documents in this collection was carried out primarily during the 1960s and over the decade following the1991 government changeover in Ethiopia.
The most comprehensive source in collection is an ethnographic account by the anthropologist Christopher R. Hallpike (2008), who conducted fieldwork among the Konso in 1965-1967, followed by a brief visit in 1997. The book demonstrates the ways traditional Konso values that emphasize communal life and masculinity lent coherence to other salient features of Konso culture and society. The most important features include a unique settlement pattern consisting of stoned walled, compact towns, internally divided not just into individual homesteads and wards, but also well-tended communal ritual spaces and men’s houses decorated with clusters of standing stones and anthropomorphic wooden grave figures commemorating battles and home-town veterans.
Other documents in the collection focus on specific themes including status of occupational groups Hallpike (1968), land use and farming techniques Kluckhohn (1962); Hallpike (1970), inter-community relations Hallpike (1970), material culture and symbolic meanings Shinohara (1993); Amborn (2002), and local effects of government policy changes Ellison (2006); Watson (2006).
For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.
Edanda – see Etenta
Ĥauda – Hauda Ĥaudida– (sing. Hauda Ĥaudida) – see Xauta
Kaha – clan – use CLANS (614)
Moora – men’s house – use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)
Pogalla – see Poqalla
Pogora – see Poqalla
Pokwalla – see Poqalla
Toola – family – use HOUSEHOLD (592)
Xauda – see Xauta
Xrela – age grade – use AGE STRATIFICATION (561)