Dorze village, which is about 35 Kms from Arbaminch, is situated high up in the misty Guge Mountains.


The Omotic Dorze people are famous for their beehive shaped Huts-which are constructed with vertical hard wood poles and woven. According to the inhabitants this towering, re-locatable, structure can go as high as 12 meters and last from 60-80 years. Traditionally the bamboos that are used as frames for the huts are cut during moonlight. For insulating the roof of the hut a thatch of grass and cover of the bamboo stem are used. Through time when termites destroy the basement of the huts, after having avoided the rotten part of the basement, the whole structure can be lifted and relocated in a different place of the same compound. This practice explains why the hut is first built so high .The older the house the shorter the height.


The house is subdivided in to a fireplace, cattle section, bedroom, and a section reserved for brewery. The Dorze grow spices, false banana (Enset), tobacco, vegetables and fruits in their compound. In their farmlands they grow mainly highland cereals.
In addition to farming the Dorze are engaged in weaving, pottery and blacksmithing.Dorze women are responsible for taking care of the child, household works, collecting firewood, spinning cotton. The male mainly farm, weave, and construct houses.
They have colorful markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Chencha and On Mondays and Thursdays at Dorze. Items on sale include fruits, cotton, cereals, vegetables, tobacco, firewood, pottery, utensils made of horns and locally woven fabrics that the region is famous for.



World-wide there are many different varieties of bamboo. The local species ( Called Kerkha) )grows only above 2400 meters. Its stems can grow to the thickness of an arm but due to exploitation, bamboo of such size is rarely seen nowadays. A large hollow stemmed grass which can attain a height of up to 25 meters but usually not growing higher than 6 to 8 meters. The smooth stem has a yellow-greenish colour and is divided into many nodes and internodes. The rough leaves are long and thin with a pointed tip. The flowers grow in 10 to 20 cm long heads, but are rarely seen. It grows in dense stands in the forest, particularly along streams and rivers, up to an altitude of 3000 meters.

Bamboo is widely used for all kinds of purpose. It is used as roofing material, floor covering, for fences, furniture, baskets and for house weaving as well as for the construction of traditional grain stores. Straight stems are the preferred material for traditional spear handles and walking sticks. From the thinner stems, local spinning tools are made. Leaves and shoots provide fodder for animals and the young stems are edible like sugar cane. Bamboo is also used for covering traditional bee-haves and it is used in the wall construction of local houses. Hollowed bamboo stems are used as pipes in the preparation of distilled local strong alcholic drink known as Arekie.

False Banana (Enset)

Enset (Ensete ventricosa) is extensively cultivated as food-crop and is a staple food for the third of the Ethiopian population. The appearance of Enset or false Banana is very similar to that of the common banana. Both plants are actually giant herbs. Enset plants can grow between 6-12 meters high. They have a "false stem" which is made up of the leaf bases. The leaves are large, bright green and have a thick pink to dark-red midrib. The flowers appear in big hanging heads of two to three meters. The fruits bear a resemblance to the common banana, but are not edible. The difference from the banana tree is where it grows. While the real banana prefers hot regions below 2000 meters ,enset grows at altitudes reaching to 3000 meters,surviving well in both the freezing highlands and the heat of the lowlands.It grows best in damp places between 2000 and 3000 meters.

From the pulp inside the stem and rootstock, flour is extracted which is used in the preparation of traditional food. The method of extracting and preparing the "Werk'e" is time consuming and requires skilled knowledge and craftsmanship. The elaborate activity begins with cutting the root and stem and removing the outer layer of skin. The scrapings of root and inner parts of the stem are collected, covered with leaves and left to ferment for 15-20 days. During fermentation the formerly soft white paste changes colour to grayish-black and turns solid. At this stage it is mixed with fresh scraping of root and stem until the colour is cream-white again. After another 5 days of fermentation it is mixed with spices, covered with leaves and left for about a week.

The final step is the removal of remaining liquid from the past by squeezing it through a piece of cloth. After drying, the flour-like mixture is cleaned from impurities. The flour is used in traditional food for making bread and porridge. Enset leaves are used in the process of baking bread. The dough is wrapped with the leaves and placed in an oven or on a fire. When the bread is ready it is peeled out of the leaves. Further, the leaves are widely put to use for packing and wrapping of edibles.The leaf fibres are used like rope for tying objects. The leaves also offer palatable fodder for cattle. Enset leafs are used for thatching of buildings and the seed are used as beads. The whole plant is good for soil conservation.

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