Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

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.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Africa --Eastern Africa



OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

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.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Edanda – see Etenta

Etenta – farmers – use OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALIZATION (463) with TILLAGE (241)

Ĥauda – Hauda Ĥaudida– (sing. Hauda Ĥaudida) – see Xauta

Kaha – clan – use CLANS (614)

Marbara – cooperative for mutual help and cooperation – use COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION (474) with MUTUAL AID (476)

Moora – men’s house – use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)

Payra – double-tipped hoe – use GENERAL TOOLS (412) with TILLAGE (241)

Pogalla – see Poqalla

Pogora – see Poqalla

Pokwalla – see Poqalla

Poqalla – lineage head and priest – use LINEAGES (613) with PRIESTHOOD (793) and/or STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)

Shilleda – mourning dance for recently deceased grandfathers – use MOURNING (765) with SPECIAL BURIAL PRACTICES AND FUNERALS (766)

Tiga – homestead – use SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361) with HOUSEHOLD (592)

Toola – family – use HOUSEHOLD (592)

Waakaa – wooden stelae – use MNEMONIC DEVICES (211) with WOODWORKING (322) and/or SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)

Xauda – see Xauta

Xauta (sing. Xautayta ) – artisans, a hereditary class of craftsmen – use OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALIZATION (463) with CASTES (564)

Xrela – age grade – use AGE STRATIFICATION (561)

Indexing Notes by

Ian Skoggard

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