Warfare and fertility : a study of the Hor (Arbore) of Southern Ethiopia.
This thesis is an ethnographic study of the Hor (Arbore) who live at the north-eastern
end of the Limo river delta on Lake Stephanie in Southern Ethiopia.
In the thesis the Hor belief in the link between warfare and fertility is described and
analysed. The Hor do not go to war against all their neighbours. Instead they have
categories of those whom they fight and whose shed blood is believed to be beneficial
to the Hor and those whom they do not fight and whose shed blood is believed to be
dangerous to the Hor. From the former they sometimes take wives and raid cattle while
from the latter they neither take wives nor raid domestic animals.
From a specific group in the first category known as Maale (and formerly from other
groups) the Hor kill male victims whose genitals and bush knives they bring home as
trophies. These outsider items are crucial in rituals for the reproduction of their society
and culture and also for the reproduction of the societies and cultures of certain of their
The thesis discusses the link between fertility and various aspects of Hor life. Hor
Qawots (ritual leaders) are empowered by the genitals brought from the exterior and it is
mainly this empowerment that is believed to enable them to be effective in their
political and religious roles in Hor country and among Hor neighbours. The study
shows how strictly ranked senior and junior Qawots who are members of the braceletwearing
clans, as well as metaphorically gendered age sets and ranked settlements,
shape the br social and cultural world and the world of their neighbours. It also shows
the crucial role of the outside both as a source of fertility and as a source of essential
tools of production and ritual items.