This group of forked wooden staves, known as Oule Sheikh Hussein, would have been carried by Ethiopian Muslim pilgrims on the way to the Abba Muda. In addition to their role as walking sticks, they would have served as props for the devout to lean on during the communal prayers, which are always undertaken standing up.
Aside from their practical function, the pilgrimage staffs are imbued with symbolic significance; an unwritten folk law, dating back to the days of the Abba Muda rituals, requires villagers to give hospitality to anyone displaying the pilgrims' regalia - of which the Oude Sheikh Hussein, with their distinctive forked shape, are the most important.
Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher (1990), African Ark: Peoples of the Horn, pp. 178-9
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