As you venture through the bustling streets of Ethiopia, you’ll find many wearing a shawl-like garment, wrapped around heads and shoulders, draped effortlessly over long dresses. You’ll see markets with entire stalls dedicated to piles and piles of these white cloths, many with a band of beautiful colors and intricate woven designs, folded one over the other, hanging from clotheslines, and lining the walls of the shop. These are a cultural emblem of Ethiopia known as the Gabi blanket. Handwoven from handspun Ethiopian cotton, often with hand-twisted frays on both ends, the Gabi blanket has many uses in everyday life. They can be seen all over Ethiopia, draped around the shoulders of men and women alike, used as a swaddle for newborns, or hung in homes as room dividers. Children are given their own Gabi blankets, a representation of love and warmth, that they keep throughout life as an item of great comfort - whether to soothe them to sleep or as a symbolic piece of security while traveling. For those who have left their home in Ethiopia, the Gabi blanket is a small but powerful reminder of their homeland and is a cherished possession.
Typically woven in white cotton with a bold strip of color in gold, silver, red, brown, or green - the Gabi represents eternal Ethiopia and is treasured as a symbol of cultural pride and identity. As a garment, the Gabi blanket is versatile and easy to wear. Here are some ways to style your very own Gabi:
- Wrapped around your head on for protection on windy or sunny days
- As a shawl or scarf to add texture or color to your outfit
- Tied around the waist as a beach cover-up
The Gabi can also be used in and out of the house as a decorative or practical element:
- On the dining table as a vibrant runner
- Draped on the couch or laid across the bed as a throw
- Hung in doorways between rooms as a privacy divider
- Put up on walls as an art piece or textural element
- At the beach or park as a picnic blanket
Take a look through our selection of Gabi blankets in a variety of colors and sizes, all ethically handmade in Ethiopia. Every Gabi blanket purchased supports local Ethiopian artisans and makers in their pursuit of preserving a traditional craft.