Icons from Ethiopia
Welcome > For more Information > More about the icons > Salome's Basket

Salome's Basket

The basket Salome is carrying on her head is the traditional Ethiopian table.

On my first visit to Ethiopia in 1964 I took this picture of a little girl in Axum with a similar table on her head – this table, however, without a cover.

Underneath the cover we find ”our daily bread” injera on a round metal dish. The bread is a sort of pancake made with a local cereal: teff. It is soft and spongy and tastes a bit like rye bread made with real leaven.
Often a week's supply is made at the same time, so the pancake-loaves are piled up. When eating you sit around the table on stools, quite small. Some spoonfuls' of hot spicy sauce are placed on top of the loaf. Sometimes when meat is added to the sauce, it is sheer luxury. You eat with your fingers, tear off an adequate piece of bread for a mouthful, use the soft bread to pick up a bit of the sauce and put it in your mouth. And if you want to honour a guest, friend or family member, you put it into his or her mouth.

On our trip in 2006 - in a small village a little outside Lalibela - we were lucky to come across a mother making the weekly supply of injera.

Here are two photos from this meeting:

1) Initially she has oiled the ceramic plate with the oil from the jug before pouring the dough. Please note the round woven table, where the bread is – all ready to be served!

2) The round ceramic cover is put on top of the baking plate, and the smoke is seen from the burning wood underneath the plate. Please note also the two small stools, the son seated on one, and the woven cover right behind the table.