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Mursi

The Mursi: live in the lower Omo valley of south-western Ethiopia, 100 km north of the Kenyan border. The Mursi are amongst the best known of the peoples of the lower Omo by yours pottery lip-plates worn by women in their lower lips. The Mursi do not regard themselves as Surma, despite the cultural and linguistic similarities. They have a population of abaout 7,500 Me’en is the name of a closely related sedentary pastoral people whose language (Me'en) is over 80% cognate with Mursi. All three peoples share a similar culture. They have a fierce culture, with a liking for stick fighting called Donga or Saginay bringing great prestige to men — it is especially important when seeking a bride — and they are very competitive. The males are often shaved bald, and frequently wear little or no clothes, even during stick fights. At a young age, to beautify them selves for marriage, most women have their bottom teeth removed and their bottom lips pierced, then stretched, so as to allow insertion of a clay lip plate. Some women have stretched their lips so as to allow plates up tosixteen inches in diameter. Their children are sometimes painted with white clay paint, which may be dotted on the face or body. Their villages normally range in size from 40 to 1,000 people, but a few may reach 2,500 people. Village life is largely communal, sharing the produce of the cattle (milk and blood, as do the Maasai). Though their chiefs (styled komaro) may wear the fur crown of a pagan priest-king, they are merely the most respected elder in a village and they can be removed.

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