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 Ethiopian Cultural Attractions
The southern part of Ethiopia is home to a remarkable mix of small, contrasting ethnic groups… Konso, Gelebe, the Bodi, the Mursi, the Surma, the Arbore, and the Hamer, Tsemay, Ari, Dorze, Karo, Bena to name but a few. Lifestyles are as various as the tribes themselves.
Lacking any material culture and artifacts common to more 'civilized' peoples, these tribes find unique ways in which to express their artistic impulses. Both the Surma and the Karo, for example, are experts at body painting, using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other's faces, chests, arms, and legs. These designs have created purely for fun and aesthetic effect.

Scarification, on the other hand, which is also popular amongst most of the peoples of the southern, does contain a number of specific symbolic messages.

For example, on their arms to represent each enemy that they have killed in battle. Elaborate hairstyles are another form of personal adornment, Hamer women wear mud and clarified butter and topped off with a head-dress featuring oblongs of extravagant shapes, with special ochre 'caps' of hair usually containing several ostrich feathers. Jewelers tends to be simple but striking colorful necklaces, chunky metal wrestlers and armlets, shiny nails appended to skirts, multiple earrings, and so on.

The insertion of wooden and terra-cotta discs into the ear lobes is a widespread custom, and Mursi and Surma women also progressively split and stretch their lower lips to make room for similar discs there, too. Though these 'lip plates' may appear bizarre to outsiders, the Mursi and Surma regard them as signs of beauty - generally speaking, the larger the lip plate the more desirable the wearer.


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