amhara

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My paternal line!! Haplogroup T!!!
In human population genetics, mitochondrial (mtDNA) haplogroups define the major lineages of direct maternal (female) lines back to a shared common ancestor in Africa.
Its highest frequencies are in two Semitic speaking peoples: the Amhara and the Tigrai

Elite endurance runners!!!
Possible patterns between Y-chromosome and elite endurance runners were studied in an attempt to find a genetic explanation to the Ethiopian endurance running success. Given the superiority of East African athletes in international distance running over the past four decades, it has been speculated that they are genetically advantaged. Elite marathon runners from Ethiopia were analysed for K*(xP) which according to the previously published Ethiopian studies is attributable to the haplogroup T[178] and specifically to the T1a1a* (old T1a*) subclade, according to further studies.[1] T1a1a* was found to be proportionately more frequent in the elite marathon runners sample than in the control samples than any other haplogroup, therefore this y-chromosome could play a significant role in determining Ethiopian endurance running success. Haplogroup T1a1a* was found in 14% of the elite marathon runners sample of whom 43% of this sample are from Arsi province. In addition, haplogroup T1a1a* was found in only 4% of the Ethiopian control sample and only 1% of the Arsi province control sample. T1a1a* is positively associated with aspects of endurance running, whereas E1b1b1 (old E3b1) is negatively associated.
Haplogroup T is common in northern Somalia and in the Somalis of Ethiopia. It is found in frequency of greater than 10 percent in populations of Kenya Tanzania and Cameroon. It is notable for being widespread in Tanzania where it is more common than Kenya . It has also been detected in the limba populations of Zimbabwe Malawi and South Africa. The distribution of this haplogroup has been suggested to be associated with mtdna haplogroup M1 as the two tend to be common in the same regions.

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Healing scroll, Amharic, Ethiopia, 19th century

Gallery note:

In Ethiopia customized protective scrolls that interweave sacred imagery with textual prayers have been prescribed by traditional healers for over two thousand years. These were carried on the person of the individual to whom they were specifically dedicated to shield them from harm. 


Often the customized content of a scroll is astrologically determined. In Ethiopia as in ancient Greece, each human being has a corresponding zodiac sign associated with a particular destiny and talismanic character. The iconography of the scrolls thus alternate between talismanic “seals” and representations of saints, angels and archangels shown in the act of fighting demons. The seals are modeled on the seal of God that was revealed to King Solomon and feature geometric patterns intertwined with stylized representations of multiple visages and eyes that indicate prayers for divine intervention.

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African ethnic group of the week: The Amhara people of Ethiopia

The name Amhara means pleasing, agreeable, beautiful, and gracious.

 The Amhara are one of the two largest ethnolinguistic groups in Ethiopia (the other group being the Oromo). They constitute almost one-third of the country’s population. The Amharic language is an Afro-Asiatic language belonging to the Southwest Semitic group. It is related to Geʿez, the sacred literary language of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, an ancient religion preserved virtually intact from the Monophysite Christianity of the Byzantine church of the 5th century. The Amhara, along with the Tigray peoples, are the principal adherents of this church.

The Amhara long dominated the history of their country; Amharic was the official language of Ethiopia until the 1990s, and it remains important. As descendants of a southward movement of ancient Semitic conquerors who mingled with indigenous Cushitic peoples, they inhabit much of the central and western parts of present-day Ethiopia. All except one of the country’s emperors from 1270 to 1974 were Amhara; this dominance created competitive quarrels between the Amhara and their northern neighbours, the Tigray, and other Ethiopian ethnic groups, such as the Oromo. Tensions rose between the Amhara and the Oromo during the period of socialist rule (1974–91), as the Oromo claimed an increasingly prominent role in the nation’s social and political affairs. After 1991 a measure of Amhara sentiment was directed against the Tigray, who had gained influence during the struggle against the Marxists.

The Amhara are primarily agriculturists, producing corn (maize), wheat, barley, sorghum, and teff (Eragrostis abyssinica), a cereal grass that is grown for its grain and is a staple of the region. Traditionally, Amhara social structure was dominated by strong personalized ties between patrons and clients, superiors and inferiors. Generally, a man’s importance was in direct proportion to the amount of land he owned. A man of wealth who owned no land, such as a merchant, had little influence. Under the imperial system, land was granted to titled nobles in return for military service to the emperor. The land was farmed by tenant clients.

Descent is reckoned patrilineally, and married couples usually reside near the husband’s home. The Amhara practice three types of marriage: kal kidan, qurban, and damoz. Kal kidan (also called serat or semanya [“eighty”]) is marriage by civil contract. It is by far the most common form, though a great percentage of such unions end in divorce. Qurban marriages are performed in church and are regarded as sacred; they cannot be dissolved, even after the death of one partner, except in extraordinary circumstances. Because of these restrictions, it is the least common form of marital union; most couples choosing to celebrate the rite are already long married under kal kidan and have children. Qurban also is the only type of wedlock into which Ethiopian Orthodox priests may enter. First marriages of the kal kidan or qurban types are normally arranged by the parents. The third type of marriage—that with the lowest status—is damoz, an arrangement by which the woman is paid to be a temporary wife, most often for a period of one or two months. While the woman in a damoz relationship receives no claim to the estate of her transient husband, children born under such unions are considered legitimate. Damoz unions were outlawed from the mid-20th century, but they continued in practice.

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This is the Church of Saint George, one of the so-called Eleven Monolithic Churches in Lalibela in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The Church of Saint George, which in the Amharic tongue is called Bete Giyorgis (translit.), is carved in situ, which means “in place”, without the intention of relocation. The church is carved out of a single block of solid rock in the shape of a cross, and have sometimes been referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. They are believed to have been created in the 12th century AD.

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Double Diptych Icon Pendant, Amhara peoples, Ethiopia, early 18th century

Met Museum notes:

In the seventeenth century, Ethiopian artists were increasingly exposed to forms of expression from Europe. During this period, double-sided diptychs became popular among the nobility as pendant icons worn suspended by a cord around the neck. The subject matter depicted on this example is a standard program for this genre of personal icon, as are the intricately carved cruciform designs that enhance the exterior surfaces of the protective covers.

This icon is a classic example of the painting style developed during the late seventeenth century at Gondar, the trading center where King Fasiladas (r. 1632–67) established his capital. Portrayed frontally with slightly turned heads and simple, iconic gestures, the figures are superimposed upon neutral backgrounds. Bodies are delineated with thick black outlines, while faces are composed of flat areas of pink and orange. Curving lines and attenuated arcs are employed to evoke the folds of draped robes and mantles.

The double-sided pendant contains four painted surfaces depicting Christian subject matter. On one side of the main panel, the Virgin Mary appears seated, holding Christ and flanked by archangels carrying swords. Grasping the Book of the Gospel and making a gesture of benediction, the Christ Child gazes lovingly at his mother, who in turn stares out toward the viewer. On the outer panel (the interior surface of the cover), Saint George appears on horseback slaying the dragon. This combination of saints was extremely popular in Ethiopian religious painting, and served to emphasize the close relationship between the Virgin Mary and Saint George, the soldier of God who was her constant companion. The opposite side of the icon illustrates the Crucifixion, with Mary and Saint John standing sorrowfully to either side of Christ. The outer panel illustrates the Resurrection, in which a monumental Christ raises the diminutive figures of Adam and Eve by their arms. A flag of victory to Christ’s right indicates this triumph over death.