Mursi Village, Mago National Park

The Mursi tribe of Ethiopia lives within the boundaries of Mago National Park in one of the most remote regions of the country. As is true with other Ethiopian tribes, the Mursi live difficult and often dangerous lives. But as I learned, they also know how to enjoy themselves. Dueling or stick fighting is a popular past time and for the women, beautifying themselves. Men, women, and even children love to paint their faces and wear jewelry and elaborate headdresses. For the women, signs of beauty also include scarification and the wearing of large pottery discs or ‘plates’ (debhinya) in their lower lips. I have to admit that the Mursi sense of beauty is a not pleasant to my eyes and when I found out how they work the plate into their lower lip, it was even more disconcerting. But that’s just on the outside. Through my guide, I was able to exchange a few words with the women in the photo. Despite any hardships they have, they were very friendly and welcoming towards me – we were even able to share a few laughs. In the end, the beauty of the Mursi woman is truly on the inside – they’re not so scary after all.

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