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The lower Omo is home to a remarkable mix of small, Contrasting ethnic groups including Karo, Dassanach, Bodi, Mursi, Surma, Arbore, Hamer

Just 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 no special symbolic significance but are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect, each artist vying to outdo his fellows.

Cicatrizing, on the other hand, which is also popular amongst most of the peoples of the lower Omo, does contain a number of specific symbolic messages. For example, Mursi warriors carve deep crescent incisions kon their arms to represent each enemhy that they have killed in battle. Elaborate hairstyle are another form of personal adornment. Hamer women wear their hair in dense ringlets smeared with mud and clarified butter and topped off with a head-dress featuring obligation of gleaming aluminium;geleb and Karo men sculpt and shave their hair in to extravagant shapes, with special ochre ’caps’of hair usually containing several ostrich feathers. Jewellery tends to be simple but striking-colorful necklaces, chunky metal wristlets and armlets, shiny nails appended to skirts, multiople earrings, and a variety of other jewellery.

The insertion of wooden and terracotta discs in to 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. At certain seasons, a visitor may be lucky to witness these colorful and dramatic traditional ceremonies, periodically young men of both Mursi and the surma tribes engage in ritual stick fighting. These duels are conducted with the utmost vigour since the winners, and those judged to have shown the greatest bravery, are much admired by nubile girls.

Another important event, seen by few tourists, is the Hamer’jumping of the bull’ ceremony. In this rite of passage, youths are required to jump on to the backs of a line of about ten cattle, run the whole length of this formidable obstacle, jump down kon to the other side and then repeat the entire procedure three more times with out falling. Finally they walk out of the arena through a special gateway, after which they are judged to have passed form boyhood to man hood.

A trip along the wild and wonderful Omo River offers many opportunities to meet the colourful local people, as well as an experience such indigenous the country.

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