Gorgeous Handwoven Shemma Scarves (2023)
Handwoven Shemma Scarves are Ethiopian cotton clothing that is among the oldest textiles in the country’s clothing industry. The Ethiopian Shema is woven on a loom from white cotton while the trimmings are done with different colors and patterns.
Traditionally, Shema was hand spun and then woven on handlooms but because of the industry’s current large base, hand weaving is not very feasible.
Soft, fluffy, white cotton is handpicked and used in the making of traditional cotton clothing by both rural and urban artisans in Ethiopia, and Eastern Africa.
While the textile tradition has tried to be resilient to modern industrialization, they have proven to be dynamic and adaptable to change with some parts of the Ethiopian cotton industry still hand spinners and weavers.
To make colorful garments, white cotton is dyed to the desired color and specially woven to the intended patterns. Embroidery designs are used to further adorn the fabric to give it an improved finish. Hand-embroidered designs are still very popular today.
Currently, Ethiopia’s cotton production is the second highest in Africa and its textile industry is largely used to sustain its rapid economic growth.
The white cotton shemma is one of the most significant garments in Ethiopia’s cultural history. The toga-like shawl is worn by both men and women in Ethiopia as full body wraps, head scarves, shawls, and or sashes.
The handwoven shemma scarves with a red border are indicative of rank and status and are worn over the Ethiopian kemis. Heavyweight shemma is worn by men and used as a shroud for the dead or as a blanket.
Other Clothing Produced From Ethiopian Cotton
Depending on the density of the cloth from its weaving techniques, Shema is used for making blankets or thick clothing known as Gabi.
This Gabi is produced from light weaves with multiple layers to give the thick effect of a blanket. The garment can trap air between the many layers to provide warmth to the wearer whilst appearing light
Natella is a lightly woven shawl that can also be created with Ethiopian cotton. The shawl has double-threaded colorful borders at each end and is worn with the traditional Ethiopian Kemis dress.
The Natella serves as a sash or belt when wrapped around the waist and as a shawl when worn over the shoulders. It is sometimes worn alone as western style clothing.