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SURMA PEOPLE AT KIBISH, ETHIOPIA

The term Surma is the Ethiopian government's collective name for the Suri, Mursi and Ma’en groups, sedentary pastoral people that inhabit the Bench Maji Zone in south-western Ethiopia, as well as parts of neighbouring South Sudan. Some authors have used the terms "Suri" and "Surma" interchangeably.
Piercing and lip plates are a strong part of the Suri (Surma) culture. At the point of puberty most women have their bottom teeth removed in order to get their lower lip pierced. Once the lip is pierced, it’s then stretched and a lip plate is then placed in the hole of the piercing. Having a lip plate is a sign of beauty and the bigger the plate, the more cattle the woman is worth. This is important when the women are ready to get married. Some women have stretched their lips so as to allow plates up to sixteen inches in diameter. Increasing with exposure to other cultures, however, a growing number of girls now refrain from this practice.
The average male in the Suri tribe owns somewhere between 30 to 40 cows. These cows are not usually killed unless they are needed for ceremonial purposes. Cows are tremendously important to the Suri, and at times they risk death to protect their herd; Suri men are judged by how much cattle they own. In desperate times, they risk their lives to steal cattle from other tribes, as men are not allowed to marry until they own 60 cows. Depending on the size of the lip plate, 30 to 60 cows are given to the wife’s family after the ceremony.
The Suri pride themselves on their scars and how many they carry. Women perform scarification by slicing their skin with a razor blade after lifting it with a thorn. After the skin is sliced the piece of skin left over is left to eventually scar. On the other hand, the men scar their bodies after they have killed someone from an enemy tribe. The Suri also paint their bodies white for some occasions. (cf. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surma_people)
Surma woman with an extremely big lip plate and stretched ear lobes for plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with an extremely big lip plate and stretched ear lobes for plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with lip plate and decoration;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with lip plate and decoration; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with lip plate and decoration;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with lip plate and decoration; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with streched lower lip for a lip plate;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with streched lower lip for a lip plate; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with streched lower lip and stretched ear lobes for plates;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with streched lower lip and stretched ear lobes for plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with streched lower lip and stretched ear lobes for plates;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with streched lower lip and stretched ear lobes for plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with scarification marks and streched lower lip and ear lobes for plates;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with scarification marks and streched lower lip and ear lobes for plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with a hole in her lip plate to make it lighter;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with a hole in her lip plate to make it lighter; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl with scarification marks;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl with scarification marks; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl with scarification marks and streched ear lobes for plates;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl with scarification marks and streched ear lobes for plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with scarification marks and big ear plates;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with scarification marks and big ear plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl with scarification marks and big ear plates;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma girl with scarification marks and big ear plates; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman in front of her bee hive hut;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman in front of her "bee hive" hut; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman and her daughter grinding maize;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman and her daughter grinding maize; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman in her hut;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman in her hut; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with baby;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman with baby; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma women carrying water canisters;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma women carrying water canisters; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman on muddy road in Kibish;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma woman on muddy road in Kibish; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma children;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma children; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma boy;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma boy; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men the cloth being their only garment;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men the cloth being their only garment; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men with white body paint;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men with white body paint; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men one with white body paint;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma men one with white body paint; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma man;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma man; south-western Ethiopia.
Surma people crossing the Kibish River;  south-western Ethiopia.
Surma people crossing the Kibish River; south-western Ethiopia.