THE TABOOS OR FORBIDDEN (FOOD) OF THE TIGRE PEOPLE.
Each family has a taboo of its own. And a man who eats his taboo grows
warts on his body, or his teeth fall
out, or he grows blind, or some part of his [body] is crippled, they
say. But if a man has eaten his taboo without knowing it and afterwards
when he has eaten notices it, he is purified with the sahat. (1) And
everybody takes great care not to eat the taboo of his family and not to
look at it nor to touch it. And these are the names of all that they
There are people that do not look at the heart [of animals] nor at the
hare nor eat them.
There are people that taboo the dwarf-antilope and do not look at it nor
There are people again that taboo the Trigonaella foenum graecum and do
not put it in the sauce with,
butter and milk nor touch it.
Others again taboo the tongue and do not eat it.
Some do not eat the lung; they taboo it.
Some do not touch the bladder.
Some taboo the unborn calf (2) and do not eat it nor look at it.
Some taboo the skin of the sausage, but they eat the stuffing.
And their daughters swear, by it; they say [for instance)
"That I do not such and such be it my dwarf-antilope," or the like.
1) 1. e. probably Terminalia Brozunei: Fres.
2) Viz. if a cow very near her time is killed.
The taboo of the Hedarab.
They taboo the hare and the heart. The reason why they taboo the hare is
the following, they say. The ancestor of this tribe was staying with his
family at Tablengi. And while he was sitting on his council-place, a
hare pursued by a wiid animal came to him and sat on his lap and kept a
silent. When the wild animal saw the man, it went back and left the
hare. (1) And when the wild animal had gone, the man took the hare down
from his lap. And he said: After thou hast become my client, be thou a
taboo for me and for my offspring!" And for this reason all his tribe
tabooed the hare up to now, and do not look at it nor eat it.
1) LiteraIly "it went back from after it."
The Taboo of the Regatl.
The Regbat, on the other hand, taboo the tongue and do not eat it. The
reason why they taboo it is the following. The ancestor of this tribe
had agreed with somebody about some matter. But afterwards his friend
changed his word (1) against him. And he said to the tongue: "Be thou
forbidden unto me and unto my offspring!" And now his offspring taboos
for this reason the tongue until this day.
[The difference] between Christians and Moslems i n [Northern]
What the Christians and Mohammedans in Abyssinia do in order to
distinguish their religion from each other is the following. The
Christians tie the ma'atab (i. e. a cord of dark-blue silk) around their
neck and pray towards the south (2) and turned in this direction they
kill the animals whose meat they eat. Moreover they do not eat the rneat
of animals which the Moslems have killed, nor do they eat camels or
drink their milk nor eat locusts. The Moslems, however, tie a rosary
around their neck and turned towards the north (3) they perform the
salat (i. e. ritual prayer). And they kill the animals whose meat they
eat placing them on the side in a northerly direction; moreover they do
not eat the meat of the wild-boar or of the pig. But rather the
important reason for which they differ from each other is (on account
of) Christ and Mohammed.
1) Literally "the lip."
2) This may perhaps be ancient tradition; cf. the Egyptian direction of
orientation. But it is more likely that they chose the southern
direction a) because Aksum, the Sacred City, lies to the south of them,
and b) because it is the opposite of the Mohammedan irection.
3) Because Mekka lies to the north of them.
Domestic animals whose meat the people in Abyssinia eat.
Cattle; sheep; goats; chickens. - Camels are eaten only by the Moslems
(The eatable) wild animals whose meat they eat are the following.
-Elephant and giraffe are eaten only by the Moslems -. Buffalo ; beisa;
kudoo; Soemmering antilope;
gazelle; wild goat; -- in the Tigrina country also the antilope called
denkuela -; madoqua antilope; klipspringer; dwarf-antilope. - The hare
is eaten only by the Moslems. - Wild boar and pig are eaten only by
those Christians that do not fast--.
Of those that fly on their wings they eat the following,.
Guinea-fowl; partridge; quail; doves; sekurruk [a species of dove]. -
Locusts are eaten only by the Moslems
The animals that are in the water which they eat. Only the fish.
Food which they taboo.
Brain; blood; carcasses; fresh butter; food of which dogs or cats have
Domestic animals whose meal they do not eat.
Horse; mule; donkey; dog; cat.
(Not eatable) wild animals whose meat they do not eat.
Rhinoceros; lion; lynx; hyaena; leopard; wild cat; the 'corpse-digger;"
-wolf; jackal; bayhot (a species of fox or jackal) ; baboon; guenon;
hyrax; squirrel; mungoose [herpestes gracilis]; mouse; turtle; geres [a
reptile, perhaps the land monitor]; serpents.
Of those that fiy on their wings they do not eat [the following)
Eagle; horn-raven; ostrich; owl; white kite; falcon; hawk; raven; owl;
stork; döb [kind of magpie?]; 'abbekiki
(1) 'eqöd; (1) 'ambalät; (1) "cattle-bird" (a kind of wagtail); qamar;
(1) cenra'; (1) wäs;
(1) 'isa; (1) 'essicé 'em-kaleb; (1) (2) talleq; (1) yörar;( 1) bat;
eduwan; (1) sabasabö;(1) masmara-ye
middarrara; (1) (3) suksuk; (1) (4) bala (1) meciw (1) and all the like.
Of the animals that are in the water they do not eat (the following).
Crocodile; water-fowl; frog; crab.
Publications of the Princeton Expedition to Abyssinia.
Enno littmann, Leyden 1910,