Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony Basket

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A gift from the Ethiopian Red Cross to a member of the British Red Cross International Department.
Coffee originates in Ethiopia and this basket was used for serving popcorn during a coffee ceremony. This is a ritualised form of making and drinking coffee which is an integral part of social and cultural life in Ethiopia. In most parts of the country, a coffee ceremony takes place three times a day - in the morning, noon and evening. It is the main social event within the village. An invitation to attend is considered a mark of friendship or respect. During the coffee ceremony, small snacks such as popcorn, peanuts or cooked barley are also served.

This basket was given as a gift to a member of the British Red Cross International Department who carried out work in Ethiopia in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene in the 1990s. It is beautifully handmade; a lot of care has gone into the making of it.

I chose this object because I love learning about different cultures and the lives of people around the world. The basket provides a fascinating insight into everyday life in Ethiopia. I think the gifting of this to a British Red Cross member shows the special relationship between this individual and the people of Ethiopia - it shows friendship and respect.

The British Red Cross has many objects like these in their collection, made by people in other countries and gifted to the British Red Cross. Objects like these show the important work of the British Red Cross in supporting other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world, and how valued this work is by the people who are helped.

Audio recording by Mehzebin Adam (Curator, British Red Cross Museum & Archives).
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