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Gallas

tribes race galla southern

GALLAS, or more correctly GALIA, a powerful race of eastern Africa, scattered over the wide region which extends for about 1000 miles from the interior of Abyssinia to the neighbourhood of the river Sabacki, in 3' 12' of S. latitude. Almost nothing has been definitely ascertained about the early homes and migrations of the race ; but it appears to have occupied the southern portion of its present territory for nearly four centuries at least. According to Ludolf and Bruce, the Galla invaders first crossed the Abyssinian frontiers in the year 1537. The Gallas of Gojam (a district along the northern side of the river Abai) tell how their savage forefathers came from the south-east from a country on the other side of a bahr (lake or river), and the Yedju and Raia Galla also point towards the east and commemorate the passage of a bahr. Among the southern Gallas tradition appears to be mainly concerned with the expulsion of the race from the country now occupied by the Somali. It is usually maintained that the Gallas are ethnographically of Semitic affinity, and find their nearest kinsmen in the Somali, the Daukali, and the Abyssinians ; but M. Lejean is of opinion that they rather belong to the Aryan race, and this is so far supported by their physiological characteristics. One thing is certain, that they have nothing in common with the negro type ; the " musculation" of the arms, thighs, and calves is altogether different, and they have none of the fetor developed by the negro skin ; their frame is large and powerful, their complexion a very dark brown, their brow broad and lofty, their eyes deep-sunk and lively, and their features not unfrequently of a regular and finely-shaped description. Of the Semitic affinity of the language their is no question, and according to the usual classification it belongs to the same Semitico-Hamitic group as the Somali, the Sabo, and the Dankali.1 The Gallas are for the most part still in the nomadic and pastoral stage ; though, as we advance northwards into Abyssinia, we find them more and more assimilated to the settled and agricultural inhabitants of that kingdom. Among the southern tribes it is said that abcut 7 or 8 head of cattle are kept for every man, woman, and child ; and among the northern tribes, as neither man nor woman ever thinks of going any distance on foot, the number of horses is very large. The ordinary food consists of flesh, blood, milk, butter, and honey, the last being considered of so much importance by the southern Gallas that a rude system of bee-keeping is in vogue, and the husband who fails to furnish his wife with a sufficient supply of honey may be excluded from all conjugal rights. This last fact is one of those which indicate the comparatively high position occupied by the Gana women, who, moreover, have the right, but rarely granted in a savage state of society, of refusing an unacceptable offer of mardage. In the south monogamy is the rule, but in the north the number of a man's wives is limited only by his wishes and his wealth. Each tribe has its own heiitch or sultan, who enjoys the strange privilege of being the only merchant for his people, but in all public concerns must take the adTiee of the fathers of families assembled in council. The greater proportion of the tribes are still pagan, worshipping a supreme god Waka, and the subordinate god and goddess Oglia and Atilia, whose favour is secured by sacrifices of oxen and sheep. With a strange liberality of sentiment, they say that at a certain time of the year Waka leaves them and goes to attend to the wants of their enemies the Somali, whom also lie has created. Some tribes, and notably the Wollo-Galla, have been converted to :.11alionletanisin, and very bigoted adherents of the prophet they are. In the north a kind of superficial Christianization has taken place, to the extent at least that the people are familiar with the names of Maremma or Mary, Balawold or Jesus, Girgis or St George, Sic. ; but to all practical intents paganism is still in force. The serpent is a special object of worship, the northern Gallas believing that he is the author of the human race. A considerable number of the men find employment in the Abyssinian armies, and in comparison with their neighbours are brave and warlike. The total number of the Gallas was estimated by Krapf at from six to eight millions, and Plowden mentions individual tribes that could bring into the field 20,000 or 30,000 horse. Among the more important tribes in the south (the name in each instance being compounded with Galla) are the Ramatta, the Kukatta, the Baiile, the Aurova, the Wadjole, the llani, the Arrar, and the Kanigo Calla ; the Borani, a very powerful tribe, may be considered to mark the division between north and south ; and in the north we find the Amoro, the Jarso, the Toolama, the Won), the Ambassil, the Alijo, and the Azobo Galla.

See "On the Origin of the Gallas," in Trans. of Bril.

Assoc., 1847; Krapf., Travels. in Eastern Africa, 1860; D'Abbadie, Douze Ass ens Havte-Fthiopie, 1868 ; Brenner, " Forselmngen in Oat-Afrika," in Petermann's Mittheilungen, 1868; Plowden, Travels in Abyssinia and the Calla Country, 1868 ; and a paper by Louis Laude irr Revue des Deux Modes, 1878.

Copyright, 1879, by Henry Cabot Lodge.

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