Omo valley Karo tribe Ethiopia

The Karo (or Kara), with a population of about 1000 - 1500 live on the east banks of the Omo River in south Ethiopia.

Their neighbors are the Hamar,Bana,Bashada,the famous Mursi and Nyangatom (on the other side of Omo river, who are their enemies ) . They speak a south Omotic language.

The Karo grow sorghum ,maize and beans .

Karo use to paint body and decorate their face. They use white (chalk), black (charcoal), yellow, ochre, and red earth.. Karo women scarify their chests to beautify themselves .The scarification of a man's chest shows that he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. The scars are done with a knife or razor blade and ash is rubbed into.

The wearing of a grey and ochre clay hair bun alsoindicates the killing of an enemy or a dangerous animal. Hamar do the same.

The women have a very distinctive hairdress: they put red clay mixed with butter in their hair, so that the hair looks like a bunch of coffee beans. Ladies still use leather clothing made from animal skins.

The men all use a wood headrest to protect their hair bun, and they use it too to sit.

They love to rest under the men house, the chifo. At the end of the harvest and at times of initiation and marriage, the Karo come together to enjoy dances with a lot of local beer. These happy times often lead to marriage after the young man has successfully accompling the bull jumping. A Karo man may take as many wives as he can afford, but usually he marries two or three.


© Eric Lafforgue


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Taken on October 29, 2008