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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Beta 'Esra'el (Falasha) and 'Ayhud in Fifteenth-Century Ethiopia: Oral and Written Traditions
Author:Quirin, James
Periodical:Northeast African Studies
Geographic term:Ethiopia
historical sources
oral history
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Education and Oral Traditions
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/43661185
Abstract:This article contributes to one of the thorniest questions in the historiography of Ethiopia - who are the FalŻashŻa? - by examining some of their oral traditions concerning ''AbbŻa' .SabrŻa and .SaggŻa 'AmlŻak in conjunction with known written sources. ''AbbŻa' .SabrŻa and .SaggŻa 'AmlŻak, who probably date to the 15th century, are the reputed founders of BŻeta 'EsrŻa'Żel-FalŻashŻa monasticism. Written documentation of BŻeta 'EsrŻa'Żel history has had to rely on external (Christian) sources, such as royal chronicles, saints' lives, religious treatises, and accounts by foreign travellers. Except for BŻeta 'EsrŻa'Żel religious books, which are difficult to use as historical data, the main sources internal to their society have been transmitted orally, through their religious liturgy and their oral traditions. The author collected oral traditions on BŻeta 'EsrŻa'Żel history in 1975-1976. On the basis of these oral and written sources, the author addresses the question of the relationship between the FalŻashŻa and ''ayhud' ('Jews', 'Jewish community') and speculates on Christian-FalŻashŻa-''ayhud' connections and influences in 13th-16th-century Ethiopia. The following preliminary thoughts are offered for discussion: the FalŻashŻa can be identified as at least one of the ''ayhud' groups, especially by the early 16th century; Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity significantly influenced the development of the BŻeta 'EsrŻa'Żel-FalŻashŻa communities; these communities were, however, composed partially but not solely of renegade Christians. Notes, ref.