Traditional Occupations & Handicrafts

Basket Weaving

Apart from colorful embroidery, women created a wide variety of woven fixtures. Complex patterns were based on geometric designs. Woven items included baskets, dishes, tables for serving injera, jewelry boxes and more. The traditional palm fibers were slowly replaced by colorful cotton thread, which was easier to deal with and preferred by the women.  The weaving tradition has continued in Israel.


Dresses and clothing items were decorated with extravagant embroidery prepared by women. The hues and geometric shapes expressed the women’s inner world. Women continue this art today in Israel, and attempts have been made to organize the women who carry out such work, such as the “Almaz” workshop in Lod.


Weaving was one of the vocations characteristic of Jewish men in Ethiopia. The main product was cotton sheets created on a loom with pedals, which could be folded up and moved from place to place.


Metalwork was carried out by Jews only, a vocation occupied solely by men. Most of the tools made were used to work the fields: ploughs, sickles, hoes and more.


Terracotta dishware was created from local clay and soil products. Surfaces were smoothed using a stone; dishes dried in the sun and then were set in an open fire. Thus cooking and storage containers as well as water jugs were made.

Earthenware statues

In addition to making a living, handiwork also provided an opportunity for personal artistic expression. The most common pieces were clay statues, embroidered covers and carved pumpkins – Jewish symbols adorned most of the artwork. Such artwork was created mostly by women and this pastime grew and developed once tourists began visiting their villages. This art combined with modern art, and continued to develop in Israel.