Surma Children Playing, Ethiopia

As the Surma children play, they will often sing traditional songs that reflect their bond with the natural world.“our mother, our apple, our fruit” are the words of one of the most popular. Continue reading

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Three Surma Girls with Painted Faces, Ethiopia

Three Surma girls decorate their faces with chalk paint in similar designs to beautify themselves and express their friendship. earplugs are also worn to increase feminine powers of attraction. Continue reading

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Karo Girl with Patterend Stomach, Ethiopia

To increase her physical allure, a Karo girl’s stomach is scarified at puberty. A series of small cuts are made into which ash is rubbed to produce a pattern of small raised lines. The bull horn motif, seen here, signifies … Continue reading Continue reading

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Surma Man with Body Decorations, Ethiopia

Surma men create their principal body decoration by smearing the skin with a mixture of chalk and water and drawing intricate designs with their wet fingertips to expose the dark skin underneath. Continue reading

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Karo Man Painted with Ocher and Chalk, Ethiopia

As red ocher, black and white paint transform a Karo man’s body, it is said that his spirit is released. such decoration is designed to capture the attention and hearts of young Karo women—even when worn by older men. Continue reading

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Karo Man with Painted Hair, Ethiopia

The painted hair buns of Karo men symbolize their courage and bravery, and often indicate that they have killed a dangerous wild animal or enemy. The gray and white egret feather inserted into the hair bun adds an extra touch … Continue reading Continue reading

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Karo Man with Painted Chalk Mask, Ethiopia

The varied and distinctive looks achieved by Karo courtship dancers, are produced using many different painting techniques. In this case, a precisely executed speckling technique was used to color the dancer’s clay hair bun, a paint brush laden with ocher … Continue reading Continue reading

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Surma Girl with Hand to Mouth, Ethiopia

During courtship season young girls scrutinize the painted men, fascinated by the different designs on each man’s body. Continue reading

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Surma Children Playing a Game, Ethiopia

Games form an important part of the education of Surma children, who are permitted to play with their friends for many hours each day, often continuing well into the evening. Continue reading

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Two Surma Children Painted as Twins, Ethiopia

Using ground chalk and natural earth pigments, Surma children are taught body painting by their parents at an early age. this instills a sense of pride in their creativity, and keeps their ancient traditions alive. Continue reading

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