Sunday, February 16, 2014

What the Stones Say

A group of young men gather around stones to test their force

In Konso, one way a man demonstrates his strength or the amount of force he has is by lifting stones.   Until somewhat recently, the need to record exact ages was considered unimportant.  Instead, people identified themselves by what work they were capable of doing and what labor force they represented.  Lifting stones then became a method to demonstrate to others the work force one was capable of, that one was both young and physically mature, and where one stood in terms of strength within the larger community.


An attempt at lifting the largest stone in this courtyard

The lift is pretty straight forward: pick up the stone from the ground, bring the stone to shoulder level, then raise stone above head in a controlled manner.  Drop the stone behind to release.  Repeat with greater stones as possible to find one's level of strength compared to others.  

video
Taking on a large stone in the old village of Dokaatu, Konso 

I went straight to the largest stone of one courtyard in the old village of Dokaatu and found I could lift it as instructed.  My pride was short lived however after I was told that the stone I handled was relatively small in comparison to neighboring villages.  

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