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Many groups in southern Ethiopia make carved wooden headrests to enable people to sleep without interfering with their complicated coiffure. Hairstyles frequently declare their owner's age, gender and status, and are often embellished by accoutrements of a magic-religious nature. Hairstyles therefore need protecting.
The headrest also plays a role in nuptial ceremonies. The groom places currency for the defibulation price under his bride's headrest. The morning after the marriage is consummated, the bride may take the money if she was a virgin. She uses it to buy an amber necklace which is the symbol of her new status as a married woman.