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Karo chief - Omo Ethiopia | by Eric Lafforgue
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Karo chief - Omo Ethiopia

Korcho , Karo tribe Ethiopia

As you can see on the head of this Karo man, he has a kind of hat/helmet made with mud, where he puts some feathers, to look nice. The headrest he's got is used to sleep on it, to avoid to break the mud helmet.

In South Ethiopia, you will see many tribes ike Tsemay, Karo, etc with head rest. Men always have on with them. It's very important cos it is used!

It's rather nice in a collection, you can find some in antiques shops in Europe for 100/200 euros. In Omo area, you can buy them for 5 euros if you do not bargain at all!


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