The Maya were a population native to the old Wej province in Ethiopia. They were renowned for their skilled archers, the services of which were available as mercenaries. The Maya were primarily pastoralists and their livelihood was with their cattle.
Maya archers initially formed the core of the southern armies of Abyssinian Emperor Lebna Dengel in resisting the Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuh al-Habash]] by the forces of Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Gurey or Gran), Imam of the Adal Sultanate. However, after the fall of their homeland to Ahmed Gurey's armies, in true mercenary fashion, the May bowmen switched sides.
Maya bowmen were armed with spears. They tipped their arrows with ouabain, a poison which caused death by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.
The Maya homeland of Wej was one of the first lands to be invaded by the Oromo migrations. The Maya repelled the weight of the Oromo for years due to their skill with the bow, until the Oromo armies changed tactics and used thick oxhide shields and fixed shield formations.
- The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century pg 188
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