Writing, Marigeta Haile Selassie, Mek’ele, Tigray, Ethiopia, March 2009

Writing, Marigeta Haile Selassie, Mek'ele, Tigray, Ethiopia, March 2009

I normally do not publish photos from my research work, but I have decided to try making them a little more artistic, and will attempt to get some good ones up here.

In this one, Marigeta* Haile Selassie, writing out a short phrase as a demonstration of  pen-technique. Notice that he holds the pen at nearly a 90-degree angle from the page, a position dictated by the nearly-90-degree cut he made of the nib, with a slight angle to allow right-handed writing. He is working on his knee, sitting on a small stool in the corner of his shop, next to the window. The pen is made out of bamboo, two species of which are native to Ethiopia.

*The title, which basically translates as ‘Master,’ refers to having completed a certain level of traditional Church education–‘temhert’–the focus of which is the memorization of Church books. The level above it would be ‘Memhir,’ which means ‘traditional church teacher.’