International Journal of Archaeology and Cultural Studies

International Journal of Archaeology and Cultural Studies Vol. 1 (1), pp. 001-018, September, 2013. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Qaallu Institution: A theme in the ancient rock-paintings of Hararqee—implications for social semiosis and history of Ethiopia

Dereje Tadesse Birbirso (PhD)

Assistant Professor, School of Foreign Language, College of Social Science and Humanities Haramaya University P.O.BOX 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Email: Tel. (+251) 09-10-95-28-18.

Accepted 03 July, 2013


This article critically analysed some of the ancient rock paintings of Hararqee of Eastern Oromia/Ethiopia with the intention to understand and explain the social epistemological and rhetorical structures that underlie beneath these social ‘texts’. It did so through using sub-themes in the ancient Qaallu Institution of the Oromo as analytical devices. Multi-disciplinary approach that combined concepts from various disciples was adopted as a guiding theoretical framework, while the Eurocentric approach that de-Ethiopinizes these historic heritages was rejected. Field data was collected from various sites of ancient rock paintings in Hararqee. Archival data were also collected.  Two informants expert with wisdom literature were selected in order to consolidate the multi-disciplinary approach adopted with the interpretive framework of the traditional, local social epistemology. The results of the analysis revealed both substantive and methodological insights. Substantively, it suggests that the Oromo Qaallu Institution fundamentally underlies the social semiotic, linguistic and epistemological structures communicated by means of the rock painting signs or motifs. Some of these are the Oromo pre-Christian belief in Black Sky-God, pastoral festival in the praise of the cattle and the fecundity divinity and genealogico-politico-identification structures. Methodologically, the unique Oromo social semiotical and stylystical rhetorics which could be referred as ‘metaplasmic witticism’ and the role of Qaallu Institution sub-themes as sensitizing devices and the emergent directions for future research are all presented in this report.

Key words: Oromo, Qaallu institution, Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, ancient rock paintings, language, social semiosis, Laga Oda.