Ethiopian Traditional Wedding Styles

Ethiopian Traditional Wedding Styles

Ethiopia is indeed a great country that prides in about 80 ethnicities, invariably making the country very rich in cultural heritage. Weddings in the East African country are of great importance to people’s lives. Basically, in Ethiopian culture, a proper traditional wedding is a three-day event. Telosh is the name given to the Ethiopian traditional wedding.
When it comes to making good choice of the attire to be used to grace that special day, some couple may choose to wear the Kaba (traditional attires) on the first day of the wedding. The Kaba is essentially required to be worn by the couple during the second day of the wedding. It is usually produced as white, gray, or beige chiffon woman's dress that often falls to the ankles and is worn with a shawl. 


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For Ethiopian couple, they usually tend to tilt their costume towards the Habesha culture of the country by wearing the Habesha Kemis. To complement the awesomeness, the bride do also spend time adorning herself with a bridal henna tattoo and gold accessories.
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The Habesha Kemis is a white hand-woven cotton material that is made from shemma. This garment is produced by sewing together long strips of woven fabric. With an approximate of 75cm width, the shemma is usually hand-woven by traditional weavers called Shemane. Also, the hand-made patterns designed on the Habesha Kemis is known as Tibeb, and are made using woven shiny threads with an addition to the Kemis, both on the waistband and edges.
However, Kemis’ style varies across community and ethnic group.
The Shewa version often make a choice of placing the embroidery on the bottom, cuffs or waist of the dress. It can also feature on all three places.
On the other hand, the Gondar version places the embroidery on the bottom hem, only at the back of the dress. Traditionally, the Kemis is ankle-length and do have a white shemma.
With the complexity of the dress, it can take up to three weeks to finish one Habesha Kemis. At Ethiopian traditional wedding, women will often wear the dress with a gauzy shawl/scarf known as Netela. This Netela will have tibeb added to its edges, which often matches the design on the Kemis. The tibeb can either be made up of a single color or have multiple colors and patterns.
It is majorly common for the Kemis to be paired with two shawls; one to cover her shoulders and another for her head. Nonetheless, the Netela is not just the only fabric women wear to accompany their Kemis. There is also a lengthy cotton sash, known as the Doncho, which can be about 26 feet in length. This material is often exclusive for married women, as it comes with colored border. Thirdly, there is the Fota, which is a colorful shawl and usually has a checkerboard design detail to it.
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Habesha Kemis has always been a testament of unique creativity and detailed design with a difference.
For the men doing Ethiopian traditional wedding, the groom may choose to go for an Ethiopian suit. This is the traditional formal wear in Ethiopia. It is characterized with a long sleeve, knee-length shirt, and matching pants. The shirts are mostly made with a Mandarin, band, or Nehru collar. The suit is made of chiffon, which is a sheer silk or rayon cloth. Also, a shawl called a Netela or a Kuta can be wrapped around the suit. Basically, the main difference between the dashiki and Ethiopian suits is the collar, as the dashiki does not have a collar. However, the Ethiopian dashikis are usually white, off-white, or natural cotton. The front is highly designed with Ethiopian themes and motifs

1 commentaire

  • Alison Francois

    Thank you very much for this article as it explains the fashions and the tradiona associated with the design of the garments

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