‘ZӓSutuel Qəne’: an Earliest Genre of Gəəz Poetic Tradition in Ethiopia. Mnemohistorical Comparative Perspective


  • Elias Membere Gared PhD Candidate at Bahir Dar University
  • Tesfaye Dagnew Bahir Dar University
  • Sintayehu Genet Bahir Dar University


Poetry, Cultural memory, Identity, Gəəz


This study is part of an ongoing broader interdisciplinary research. It is mainly inspired by the latest paradigmatic and theoretical positions in cultural memory studies. The aim of the study is to explore, locate and describe the earliest genre form of the widely popular poetic tradition that is unique to Ethiopia, ‘Qəne’, from a mnemohistorical comparative vantage point. The study adopted a blend of two methodological approaches, namely ‘multi-level interdiscursive network analysis’ which is popular in cultural memory studies, and the ‘Historical-Comparative (H-C) approach’ developed by Neumannin in 2007 for similar research contexts in the social sciences, to address the comparative interest of the study. Hence, the study identified that ‘ZӓSutuel Qəne [poetry], ዘሱቱኤል ቅኔ is not only the earliest of all Gəəz Qəne poetic traditions known so far in Ethiopia, but unique in its form, especially its earliest version. This poetic form is named after its originator, a religious scholar called ZӓSutuel (by his Christian name), or Andrim or Dəhrim (by his Common name).The study also found out that this ancient poetic practice had passed through three developmental stages that could be chronologically and syntagmatically differentiated. The earliest form of ‘ZӓSutuel Qəne’ is the shortest of all, having ‘single-tonal’ unique feature when it is read or said. This earliest generic form of Qəne is followed by the prosodic’ type of ‘ጉት ቅኔ, Gut Qəne’ which is relatively longer, but does not state a complete thought. Finally evolved the ‘ዜማዊ ቅኔ hymnal qəne’ version, which is almost similar to the Yaredian hymnal qəne poetic forms that are handed down to the current generation through the church. All the three Qəne poems presented and analyzed in the study belong to the first ‘single-tonal’ type and they do have huge mnemonic significance towards understanding the societal context they are representing.