Oral traditions recount a long period of interaction between the Ethiopian royal court and the country’s southwestern peoples. The traditions served as the basis for a late-nineteenth-century account written in Amharic, which we can compare with medieval documents in Ge’ez dating back to the fifteenth/sixteenth centuries. These documents from the Bərbər Maryam church attest the economic and political interests that the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia had in the southwest. They can be used to identify medieval chiefs in this area. Most of the small territories named in the Ge’ez documents can still be identified: Wağ, Qogga, and Wälamo; but a few cannot: Gäda, Kwäm Dahar, Qwaṣä, and Bäräza. The present article shows how written sources are related to oral traditions and can be used to reconstruct local history.

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