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Photographer's Note

Young woman from Mursi village from Southern Ethiopia.

Mursi are largerly known for their custom of inserting a large balsawood or terracotta disk in the lower or upper lip (not for carrying guns ;-)). It is a sign of tribal identity and ornamentation but more importantly it is a useful means of indicating the size of the dowry paid by the family of a husband to that of the bride (a little different from some european customs, I guess ;)).

The size of the disk in this girl's lips is one of the biggest I've seen among other village woman. It is directly proportional to the numberof cattle that are used as payment for 'bridal' transaction.

The disks are not worn ALL the time but only on worthy the effort occassions or in the form of 'dressing' up. Intact lip indicates the girl has not yet reached the age of maturity. Once she does, a little hole is made in her lip and is systematically enlarged throughout the years by wearing disks that increase in their size.

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Additional Photos by Krzysztof Pakulski (Paker) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 220 W: 0 N: 259] (2650)
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