Estranged People

Weaving Their Own History

All of the tallits and shawls that are sold on this web site are handwoven by Ethiopian Jews.

Weaving is a trade that has been passed down for many generations. The weavers pictured here are full time weavers, but a number of people also weave at night in their homes after working all day (most jobs don’t pay enough to live on).

In several cases we saw homes that just held the loom and the weaver’s bed,
as pictured here:  
They also weave many other items such as dresses, table cloths, bed spreads, curtains etc. We will soon be offering table clothes, bed spreads and scarves on this site.

The Process of Weaving

The weaving in this community starts with obtaining cotton as picked from the plant (except for the shawls, which require a specially purchased thread).

It is then spun by hand into thread, washed and hung out to dry, and then spun onto spools used to weave with the loom.
All of the tallits and shawls that are sold on this web site are handwoven by Ethiopian Jews.

Weaving is a trade that has been passed down for many generations. The weavers pictured here are full time weavers, but a number of people also weave at night in their homes after working all day (most jobs don’t pay enough to live on).

In several cases we saw homes that just held the loom and the weaver’s bed,
as pictured here:  
They also weave many other items such as dresses, table cloths, bed spreads, curtains etc. We will soon be offering table clothes, bed spreads and scarves on this site.

The Process of Weaving

The weaving in this community starts with obtaining cotton as picked from the plant (except for the shawls, which require a specially purchased thread).

It is then spun by hand into thread, washed and hung out to dry, and then spun onto spools used to weave with the loom.

We also saw dyed cotton of many colors hanging out to dry, but did not get a picture of that.
 

The looms that are used vary considerably, some being more comfortable to work at than others.

Most made us think about how Americans would complain about leg cramps, or back aches after just fifteen minutes of being in an awkward position with this tedious, intricate work.

One weaver we saw did not have what we would typically think of as a loom. He had just one end of threads secured, with the other end brought together behind him on the floor as pictured:

This was the simplest loom that we saw. Most of the others had threads secured at both ends, with the weavers still sitting on the floor to weave. There were some looms that looked almost modern factory-like looms, but they are still located in very primitive facilities and are not automated with electricity or motors.

 
As we toured and met the different weavers, one of the Ethiopian Jews stated that one of the reasons that they wanted to start this site was to give better working conditions to the weavers. I hope that these pictures have shown you why he would say that.
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