Who is That Riding a Cart on The Highway?

by Sarika Kabra - Date: 2007-04-28 - Word Count: 646 Share This!

One look at the horse-driven cart trudging along the superhighway, and you are sure to wonder what it is doing amongst the fast moving cars and trucks of the day. Look closer, and you are likely to find a young bearded man in a straw hat and suspenders merrily plodding along, unmindful of the surprised glances he is attracting.

The living style of the Amish people has never ceased to draw a sense of awe from the people who encounter them. It is difficult to fathom for most of us used to the comforts of the modern world that such a reclusive society could even exist in the first place. A bigger surprise awaits you when you realize this society is flourishing in major parts of America and Canada, both known for their advanced levels of development and human comforts. A society of nearly 2,00,000 people whose religious beliefs result in them voluntarily shunning the trappings of modern day life.

What then, are the Amish all about?

The subjects of several movies, novels and theatre presentations, the Amish have fired the imagination of the people surrounding them for ages. Descendants of Swiss Anabaptist groups formed in the early 16th century during the radical reformation, they are a reclusive clan of people hailing from a Swiss-German ancestry. The Swiss Anabaptists had their origins with Felix Manz (ca. 1498-1527) and Conrad Grebel (ca.1498-1526). They later adopted the term "Mennonite", the name originating from the then leader of the clan, Menno Simons (1496-1561).

It was only much later that the Amish movement got its present name, derived from that of Jacob Amman (c. 1656 - c. 1730), a Swiss Mennonite leader. Amnan propagated a stricter and more conservative line of thinking to the movement, as he felt that the original traditions were not being followed. This further led to a split in the ranks of the clan, leading to the Amish clan separating from the mainstream Mennonite group.

It was as late as the Eighteenth century that the Amish started migrating to Pennsylvania with an aim of avoiding the large scale poverty and the resulting religious wars. The descendents of these original migrants spread to live in different parts of North America, and are today spread all over the Continent.

The simple living of the Amish people is something which is a derivative of their reclusive lifestyle. They dress in simple clothes without any frills, to avoid the remotest chance of occurrence of vanity of any kind. The women wear only plain clothes, and any form of use of bright colors is strictly prohibited. Calf length plain cut dresses in solid colors such as blue are preferred. The men are equally simply dressed, with plain shirts and dark trousers with straw hats (in summers) with suspenders, and a dark coat in winters. A moustache may not be grown, while a beard is common amongst married men due to religious beliefs. The entire aim being to avoid anything which may lead a person into thinking he's special, or better than his other community members, further leading to competition of any kind.

The simplicity of the Amish people extends to inside their houses as well, and to the furniture they use. is plain and devoid of fancy designs. The Amish shunning of modern machinery does not allow them to make use of any modern machinery, and is all that is to be found in their homes. Lack of machinery does not mean lack of skills, however, and the end quality of handcrafted Amish furniture is enough to put many of its illustrious machine-made cousins to shame. Simple straight lines and functional pieces are the hallmark of the

Little wonder, then, that anything even remotely related to this exclusive clan of simple people inspires a sense of awe and forbearing. Own a piece of their tradition, and you are bound to feel that awe spreading its glow inside you as well.

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The author has bought some exquisite hardwood dining furniture. You can buy beautiful handcrafted Amish Furniture for your home and office in online stores. Visit for some great deals on wholesale Amish furniture.

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