Mursi Tribe- Tribals with Lip Plates

The Mursi Tribe may be found in Ethiopia's far southwest, in the Omo River Valley, just north of the Kenyan border. Some of the oldest human remains ever discovered have been discovered here in the remote Omo Valley, and the tribes that still call this location home continue to practice many ancient customs. It is commonly known that the ladies of the Mursi Tribe, which has less than 10,000 members, wear large plates on their lower lips.

Photo credit-schoolforafrica.org

The practice of wearing a lip plate is associated with female fertility and marriage. When a Mursi girl enters puberty, a female tribal elder will slit her lip and implants a little wooden stick. The lip is then gradually lengthened over time by wearing plates of varying sizes and ornamentation, first by inserting bigger sticks every night. According to legend, a lady who does not wear a lip plate is viewed as sluggish and will not merit as much in the way of bride fortune. With some lip plates having a diameter of up to 12 centimeters, it is unquestionably a sign of tenacity and boldness on the part of the lady who wears it.


When presenting meals to males, at important events (like weddings), during donga dueling competitions, and at dances, single or newlywed women typically wear lip plates, which can be constructed of wood or clay. After several years of marriage, a lady could gradually discontinue wearing her lip plate or, in the event of her husband's death, she might completely remove it.

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Young Mursi males engage in a donga, a type of ceremonial dueling, to demonstrate themselves to their future spouses. Umoga, or dueling gear, is worn by contestants and serves as both protection and ornament. Typically, it consists of animal-skin shin guards, a leopard hide thrown over the body, cotton headgear, and a cowbell wrapped around the waist. The two men duel until one stops or is knocked out using wooden rods that are about 2 meters long.

Clay and Minerals painted face

The language spoken by the Mursi is their native speech.   It belongs to the Surmic linguistic group. The Mursi language has two orthographies. One is based on Amharic, despite the fact that Mursi is one of the Surmic languages and has different both stressed and unstressed syllables from Amharic.  The Latin-based alphabet in the second option is more appropriate.

Photo credit-www.worldlanguage.com

The Mursi also have a custom of utilizing clay and natural minerals to paint their bodies. The body paint is symbolic as well as decorative; it is believed to fend off evil spirits, intimidate adversaries, and draw in the opposite gender. It's also quite useful since the white limestone serves as an insect protector and the clay shields you from the Ethiopian sunlight. Male tribal members frequently paint each other without availability to mirrors, evaluating the results by the emotions of observers.

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The Mursi tribe grows maize, beans, and chickpeas in addition to sorghum, a heat- and water-stress grain that is used as a dense porridge by the women. The primary duty of the Mursi women is to go get water and lumber so they can prepare the meal that the men supply.

Photo credit-travellersarchive.com

It remains to be seen if the Mursi ladies would keep wearing lip implants. Some younger Mursi women think that not having their lips clipped makes them more contemporary; they are aware that their government and the tourists who come to photograph the girls wearing them view the practice as ancient. For others, though, the lip plates are an important part of their tradition, a means to set their tribe apart from others in the region, and (more recently) a critical source of revenue for the sometimes crop failure community.


To know more about such indigenous tribes of the world, stay tuned with me. Until next time, stay happy and stay safe.

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