Traveling to Ethiopia? Enjoy Omo valley Tour, which is also known as the Tribal Ring
The cultural variety in Ethiopia, which is a result of immense tribal differences, can be seen among the individual tribes who are rich in culture and a variety of dialects. Blue sky ethiopia takes you in to the commonly known tribal ring.
This place is situated in and around the Omo Valley with its popular ethnic treasures. This is where about 50% of Ethiopia's ethnic groups live: The Konso with their terraced agriculture and rituals; the Mursi with their clay lip plates and barbarian life style; the Hammer with their bull-jumping ceremony, which young men must experience in order to qualify for adulthood; and the Karo with their body painting and adornment. Here unusual traditions such as dance, music and rituals from birth to marriage and burial are still observed in their genuine and original forms.
The most known tribes who are frequently visited by most tourists are briefly summarized hereunder:
The Ari inhabit the northern border of Mago National Park and have a population of around 120,000 people. They keep large numbers of livestock and produce large amounts of honey, often used for trade. The women wear skirts made from the enset tree.
The Benna are believed to number around 45,000; they inhabit the higher ground to the east of Mago National Park. Most practice agriculture, though their diet is supplemented by hunting. If they manage to kill a buffalo, they decorate themselves with clay and put on a special celebration and feast for the whole village.
The Bodi – numbering around 3500, are agro-pastoralists and their language is Nilo-Saharan in origin. They inhabit the northeast edge of Omo National Park.
The Bume, numbering around 8000, inhabit the land south of the Omo National Park, but sometimes invade the southern plains when fodder or water is scarce.
Like the Bodi, the Bume are agro-pastoralists, growing sorghum by the Omo and Kibish Rivers as well as fishing and rearing cattle. They also hunt in the park and smoke bees out of their hives for honey. They are known as great warmongers and at war with almost everyone, particularly the Karo, the Hamer and the Surma.
The Bume use scarification for cosmetic purposes, tribal identification and as indications of prowess in battle. Both men and women use little pointilles or dots to highlight their eyes and cheekbones. The women also scarify their torsos with curvilinear and geometrical designs.
Inhabiting the northwest edge of Omo National Park, the Dizi are sedentary agriculturists, cultivating sorghum, root crops and coffee. They also practice terracing on the mountain slopes.
The Hamer who number around 50,000, are subsistence agro-pastoralists. They cultivate sorghum, vegetables, millet, tobacco and cotton, as well as rearing cattle and goats. Wild honey is an important part of their diet.
The people are known particularly for their remarkable hairstyles. The women mix together ochre, water and a binding resin, rub the mixture into their hair, then twist strands again and again to create coppery-colored tresses known as goscha. These are a sign of health and welfare.
If they have recently killed an enemy or a dangerous animal, the men are permitted to don clay hair buns that sometimes support magnificent ostrich feathers. The buns – with the help of special headdress (borkotos) for sleeping – last from three to six months, and can be ‘redone’ for up to one year.
The Hamer are also considered masters of body decoration. Every adornment has an important symbolic significance; earrings for example, denote the number of wives a man has.
The women wear bead necklaces, iron coils around their arms, and decorate their skin with cowry shells. The iron torques around their necks are known as ensente and are worn by married or engaged women only. They indicate the wealth and prestige of the woman’s husband. Young, unmarried girls wear a metal plate in their hair that looks a bit like a platypus’ bill.
The iron bracelets and armlets are an indication of the wealth and social standing of the young girl’s family. When she gets married, she must remove the jewellery; it is the first gift she makes to her new family.
The Hamer territory stretches across the plains of the Lower Omo to Chew Bahir in the east, almost to the Kenyan border in the south, and to the territory of the Benna in the north.
The Karo people thought to be one of the most endangered groups the Omo, with a population of about 1500 people. They inhabit the eastern bank of the Omo. They were formerly pastoralists, but many of their cattle have been wiped out by disease, and many have turned to agriculture.
In appearance, language and tradition, they slightly resemble the Hamer, to whom they are related. The Karo are considered masters of body painting, in which they engage when preparing for a dance, feast or celebration. Most famously, chalk is used to imitate the spotted plumage of the guinea fowl.
The Karo are also great improvisers: Bic biros, nails, sweets wrappers and cartridges are all incorporated into jewellery and decoration. Yellow mineral rock, black charcoal and pulverized red iron ore are traditionally used.
The koygu (also known as the Muguji) inhabit the junction of the Omo and Mago Rivers. They commonly grow sorghum, and collect wild fruit, berries and honey. The Koygu are known for fishing and for hunting the hippo, which they eat. They use both guns and traps for hunting.
Perhaps the best known of the Omo peoples are the Mursi, thought to number around 6500, are mainly pastoralists who move according to the seasons between the lower Tama Steppe and the Mursi Hills in Mago National Park.
Some Mursi practice flood retreat cultivation, particularly in the areas where the tse tse fly prohibits cattle rearing. Honey is collected from beehives made with bark and dung. The Mursi language is Nilo-Saharan in origin.
The most famous Mursi traditions include the fierce stick fighting between the men, and the lip plate worn by the women which is made of clay and often quite large, the plates are inserted into slits in their lower lips. Anthropologists offer several theories to explain the practice: to deter slavers looking for unblemished girls; to prevent evil from entering the body by way of the mouth; or to indicate social status by showing the number of cattle required by the wearer’s family for her hand in marriage.
Formerly nomadic pastoralists, the Surma now largely depend upon the subsistence cultivation of sorghum and maize. The Surma have a fearsome reputation as warriors, in part inspired by their continual search for grazing lands, Fights against the Bume, their sworn enemies, still occur.
It is believed that the Surma once dominated the area, but their territory has been reduced to an area stretching along the western edges of the Omo National Park, in the hills around Maji and along the Kibish River. They are believed to number around 45,000. The Surma hunt in the park and make beehive huts. Like the Mursi, the Surma men are famous for their stick fighting, the Surma women for their lip plates.
The Surma are known for their white, almost ghostlike body painting. White chalk is mixed with water to create a kind of wash. The painting is much less ornamental than that found in other tribes and is intended to intimidate enemies in battle. Sometimes snake and wavelike patterns are painted across the torso and thighs.
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