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Ethiopian tribeswomen proudly display huge lip plates

UK News

Fascinating portrait images show the striking beauty of Ethiopia’s Suri tribespeople whose traditions involve the insertion of huge clay plates into women’s lips. 

The tribe inhabit the mountains of the Great Rift Valley in the plains of south-western Ethiopia and pride themselves on the scars they carry. 

The clay plates, which can be as big as 16 inches in diameter, are first given to children when they are just 12-years-old. 

Sarawut Intarob, 36, took the photographs and was told most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted.

A collection of pictures show the impressively large lip plates of the Suri people, a tribe that inhabit the mountains of the Great Rift Valley in the plains of south-western Ethiopia

A collection of pictures show the impressively large lip plates of the Suri people, a tribe that inhabit the mountains of the Great Rift Valley in the plains of south-western Ethiopia

A collection of pictures show the impressively large lip plates of the Suri people, a tribe that inhabit the mountains of the Great Rift Valley in the plains of south-western Ethiopia

The huge clay plates, which can be as big as 16 inches in diameter, are first given to children when they are just 12-years-old

The huge clay plates, which can be as big as 16 inches in diameter, are first given to children when they are just 12-years-old

The huge clay plates, which can be as big as 16 inches in diameter, are first given to children when they are just 12-years-old

The larger the plate, the more cows the girl’s father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries. Cattle are enormously important to the Suri people and bring status.

The painful practice is less common in the younger generation of Suri women.

Women and children in the tribe also often decorate themselves with white clay patterns, and flowers on their heads.

Sarawut Intarob, 36, took the photographs and was told most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted

Sarawut Intarob, 36, took the photographs and was told most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted

Sarawut Intarob, 36, took the photographs and was told most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted

The larger the plate, the more cows the girl's father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries. Cattle are enormously important to the Suri people and bring status

The larger the plate, the more cows the girl's father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries. Cattle are enormously important to the Suri people and bring status

The shape of a lip once a lip plate has been removed

The shape of a lip once a lip plate has been removed

The larger the plate, the more cows the girl’s father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries. Cattle are enormously important to the Suri people and bring status. Right: The shape of a lip once a lip plate has been removed

Suri villages range between 40 and 2,500 people and village discussions are led by elders and the komoru - a ritual chief

Suri villages range between 40 and 2,500 people and village discussions are led by elders and the komoru - a ritual chief

Suri villages range between 40 and 2,500 people and village discussions are led by elders and the komoru – a ritual chief

One of the fiercest indigenous tribes in the world, stick fighting and living off the land are the norm for the Suri people who own large herds of cattle, which they graze while travelling through Ethiopia.

Until they were formally incorporated into Ethiopia in 1897, Suris had been living on the Sudan-Ethiopian border from the early 1800s, and feeding their cattle on pastures in the Sudan. 

Suri villages range between 40 and 2,500 people and village discussions are led by elders and the komoru – a ritual chief.

One of the fiercest indigenous tribes in the world, stick fighting and living off the land are the norm for the Suri people who own large herds of cattle, which they graze while travelling through Ethiopia

One of the fiercest indigenous tribes in the world, stick fighting and living off the land are the norm for the Suri people who own large herds of cattle, which they graze while travelling through Ethiopia

One of the fiercest indigenous tribes in the world, stick fighting and living off the land are the norm for the Suri people who own large herds of cattle, which they graze while travelling through Ethiopia

Until they were formally incorporated into Ethiopia in 1897, Suris had been living on the Sudan-Ethiopian border from the early 1800s, and feeding their cattle on pastures in the Sudan. Pictured: the shape of a lip once a lip plate has been removed

Until they were formally incorporated into Ethiopia in 1897, Suris had been living on the Sudan-Ethiopian border from the early 1800s, and feeding their cattle on pastures in the Sudan. Pictured: the shape of a lip once a lip plate has been removed

Until they were formally incorporated into Ethiopia in 1897, Suris had been living on the Sudan-Ethiopian border from the early 1800s, and feeding their cattle on pastures in the Sudan. Pictured: the shape of a lip once a lip plate has been removed

No one knows why lip plates were first used. One theory goes that it was meant to discourage slavers from taking the women

No one knows why lip plates were first used. One theory goes that it was meant to discourage slavers from taking the women

No one knows why lip plates were first used. One theory goes that it was meant to discourage slavers from taking the women

The Suri have some other extremely painful rituals as well, including scarification and dangerous stickfighting.

Scarification is when the skin is lifted with a thorn then sliced with a razor blade, leaving a flap of skin which will eventually scar. 

Traditionally the stick fights were a place where young men could prove themselves to the girls and find a wife. 

No one knows why lip plates were first used. One theory goes that it was meant to discourage slavers from taking the women. 

DailyMail Online


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