Mursi Woman with Lip Plate
This woman has many of the adornments worn by the Mursi:
- the lip plate which serves as a symbol of female strength and self-esteem and is a marker of tribal identity. At age 15 or 16, girls have their lower lip pierced to accommodate a small wooden plug. Over time, progressively larger and larger wooden plugs and eventually clay plates are inserted in the hole that was created by the piercing. The lip plate is seen as a sign of adulthood and a readiness for reproduction. The Mursi are one of the last tribes in Africa to wear the lip plate.
- piercing of the ears for insertion of plugs
- scarification, often of geometric patterns, which serve as a form of artistic expression and a means of displaying strength of character by demonstrating an ability to withstand pain. The scars are made by making an incision with a sharp object and then inserting charcoal into the skin to give a raised lesion.
- armbrands as a sign of social status
Photograph taken in a Mursi Village in the Mago National Park, Omo Valley, Ethiopia