Also known as cicatrisation, this practice is often viewed with distaste or alarm by members of the outside world; however, scarification is actually an ancient, revered custom, practiced by tribal peoples all over the world, and specifically by male and female members of the southern Ethiopian Omo tribes, including, most notably, the Bumi.
With men, scarification is used to convey the warrior status of the wearer; in fact, men are not allowed to scarify themselves until they have overcome an enemy or a feared animal. The scarification of women is an aesthetic practice said to increase the wearer’s attractiveness. The process of scarification involves making many tiny little cuts in the surface of the skin, and then rubbing in some ash. The ash rubbed into the wounds causes the rising of the flesh and achieves the raised, bumpy appearance that is deemed highly desirable. The cuts are made in lots of different patterns and designs; the Bumi pierce the skin of their eyelids and cheekbones with little dots and show off larger patterns on their ribcages.
Other Tribes Omo Valley
Relatively large, Arbore is far more rustic and unaffected than many similarly size towns in south Omo, in common with their linguistically and culturally affiliated Tsemai neighbors, the Arbore migrated to their present homeland from Konso perhaps two...read more
Ari women are famous for their pottery which they sell to support their families. The Ari inhabits the northern border of Mago National park in southwestern Ethiopia. Ari villages have neat compounds in fertile and scenic land with Coffee plantations. They...read more
This tribe is part of the Hamer - Bashada cultural unit. The Benna reside in the higher grounds east of the Mago National Park, and their population is estimated at around 35,000 people. They are primarily agriculturalists; however, Benna men also hunt for...read more
The Bodi are pastoralists living close the Omo River in southwestern Ethiopia. The Bodi are of Nilo-sahran stock and pastoral background. Although they do cultivate sorghum along the banks of the Omo River, their culture is very much cattle centered....read more
The Dasenech, alternatively known as the Galeb or Reshiat, range across a large territory following the western banks of the Omo River to Lake Turkana. Local oral tradition, reinforced by that of the Turkana, recounts that the Dasenech migrated to their...read more
The Karo, which number only about 3,000 people mainly live on the practice of flood retreat cultivation on the banks of the Omo River in southwestern Ethiopia. The Karo excel in face and body painting, practiced in preparation of their dances and ceremonies, they...read more
The Hamer Tribe
The Hamer people are primarily pastoralists who occupy the land southeast of the Mago National Park and beyond, stretching into the Murle Controlled Hunting Area. The Hammer territory also stretches from the lower Omo region in the west to Chew Bahir in...read more
This often death defying ceremonial practice exists within the Hamer culture. Considered a rite of passage, the jumping of the bulls is a task that a Hamer boy must fulfill in order to pass from childhood to early adulthood. Several days before the...read more
The Mursi people are primarily pastoralists. They reside in the western regions of the Mago National Park, and move between the lower Tama Steppe, where they spend the wet season, and the Mursi Hills sector of the Park, where they spend the dry season....read more
Also known as Bume, the Nyangatom live south of Omo National park and occasionally migrate in to the lower regions of the park when water or grazing is scarce. Numbering around 6,000-7,000 in population, the Bumi are agro pastoralists, relying on cattle...read more