Gift of Mrs. Dorothy Nesh Shack

Shamma or dress of white, plain weave cotton, stitched in Ethiopia. The shamma has a scoop neckline and is sleeveless; those openings are accented with olive green embroidered over cast stitches, and small diamond-like forms filled in with embroidery in red, yellow or purple. Professor William Alfred Shack (1923-2000), a social anthropologist on the faculty of the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, researched the social structure of the Gurage people of Ethiopia in 1957-59 and in 1962-65. On the second tour his wife, Dorothy (nee Nesh) accompanied him. During the 1962-65 research trip Mrs. Shack had several shamma made to wear there. She described the Ethiopian market places where men would sew such garments on older sewing machines. She believes that her waist measurement was taken, but the rest of the garment was "sized" only through observing her standing in the market place. She indicates that you would choose the fabric and perhaps select a trim color, and then the garment would be made for you. This shamma has a full, gathered skirt, decorated down the front with embroidery and a strip of olive decorative tape which has been embroidered. There is a band of matching decorative tape going around the skirt, 1.5 inches up from the hemline. It fastens down the back with a metallic "silver" zipper; garment is completely lined in white cotton. This shamma is worn with a natella (2000.60.3).

Used: adult | Female | Dorothy Nesh Shack | African American | Ethiopia

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