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Friday, June 21, 2024

Women from Africa’s Mursi Tribe

Mursi tribe in Ethiopia is a surmic ethnic group mainly residing in the Debub Omo Zone of the southern nations.

The Mursi tribe, also called Mun, has some features that make them famous, attractive, unique, and super beautiful.

Read through this post to know more about the Mursi women from Ethiopia, Africa’s tribe, beautiful traits, and culture.

A Glance at the Mursi Women of Africa’s Tribe

The Mursi women are the true definition of international cultural diversity, with international recognition and appreciation of how people around the globe perceive their beauty.

Mainly their teenage girls decide where to pierce their lips for the lip plate attachment, without men or older women forcing them.

Who are the Mursi Women?

Mursi women are the last tribe in Omo Valley, Ethiopia, that still wears traditional clothing and accessories such as ear lobes and wooden lip plates.

Mursi Women‘s Attire

The Mursi women’s attire is a goatskin tied at the waist to form a skirt-like dress, and they wear it till the birth of their first child.

After the first child’s birth, the mother receives a leather stole they wear over the skirt in a ceremony known as jone chibin.

A Quick Look at the Mursi Women’s Jone Chibin (Women’s coming of age)

Following the first child’s birth, a girl becomes a woman, and the jônê chibin ritual (which means ‘tying (chibin) the mother’s skirt) marks this transition. 

An average Mursi woman receives her second skin that will serve as a skirt after her first child is born.

Recently, the Mursi women wear a cloth they tie over one shoulder, which covers the breasts, while some move around with bare breasts since it’s their usual lifestyle in the past.  

The Lifestyle of Mursi Women 

The lifestyle of Mursi women is second to none because their women pierce their ear lobes at age 10, and they beautify themselves with aesthetics.  

Another fascinating lifestyle of the Mursi women is their unquenchable desire to beautify themselves with anklets, metal bracelets, and people of the same age group wearing similar jewelry.

Another way of life of the Mursi women is their headdresses made with different materials like flowers, cattle horns, fruits, warthog tusks, and several objects that naturally surround them.  

Face and body paint, colorful beads all make the Mursi women the vast masters in the art of seduction.  

What are Mursi women famous for?

The Mursi tribe in an isolated region in Ethiopia has specific beauty perceptions. 

Their Mursi women are well known for their sizeable wooden lip plates that signify beauty and identity.

And they are famous for the wooden lip plates (dhebi a tugoin) they attach to their mouths, symbolizing identity and beauty.

Mursi Tribe and Lip Plate

Women in the Mursi tribe frequently wear lip plates, especially during weddings, milking cows, serving food to men, rituals, etc.

Their relationship with lip plate notifies the public that the women are due for marriage, ready for reproduction.

The lip plate often shows commitment to husbands, a symbol of beauty and a visual marker of their identity. 

Majorly, Mursi women use clay lip plates to redefine beauty. 

Attaching the lip plates begins at the age of 15 – 16 and for every female.

The mother, a Mursi female child, or a woman from the same tribe performs this for the first time.  

Origin of the Lip Plate 

The origin of lip plates has so many speculations and assumptions. Still, the general belief is that it began because men of some tribes in Ethiopia wanted their women to look dull. 

The goal of the men from such tribes was to ensure their look unexciting to foreign men during the era of slavery but later transformed into culture and attraction for tourists.

Regardless of civilization in the entire world, the lip plate tradition has persistently existed with a bit of adjustment that the individual’s choice is respected.

Apart from Ethiopia, there are well-known lip plate countries, and such nations include Sudan, Ecuador, and South America.  

The Significance of Lip-Plates Among the Women of Mursi African Tribe

The lip plates have different importance it portrays in the lives of the females from the Mursi tribe, and some of them include the following;

  • Generally, the lip plate is well thought-out as a rite of passage from adolescence to womanhood.
  • Traditionally, a lip plate indicates a woman’s fertility and evidence that the female is ready to be a wife.
  • It’s also notable that the lip plate symbolizes strength, self-esteem and the larger the plate, the more beautiful the woman is.
  • The lip plate serves as a style that distinguishes the tribe from different existing tribes.
  • Since it symbolizes fertility and eligibility, they mainly use it in events like weddings and dance competitions.  
  • As a sign of commitment, the women serve their husbands’ meals with the plates on. When a man dies, the woman removes the plate as there is an assumption that the woman’s external have faded out.  

How is beauty redefined with a clay lip plate?

Beauty for Mursi women boils down to culture, and Mursi women qualify beauty with clay lip plate at the age of 15.

They cut lower lips to wear their colorful plate, enhancing physical beauty and improving seduction skills.

How the Mursi women attach the lip plate to the mouth

A lip plate is a beautification and body modification usually circular, like a large disc made from clay or wood that ranges between 4 and 25 centimeters.

At puberty, they insert the plate into a pierced hole in the lower lip, upper lip, or both, stretching it, and the painful process takes months.

The pain and its healing process take about three months with the help of original plant-based ointments.

The women remove two or four teeth before cutting the lower lip to place the plate on the lip to fit in.

Has the Mursi tribe lasted for ages?

The Mursi tribe is an isolated region in the country, created during the reign of Emperor Menelik in the 19th century.

The history and origin of the Mursi tribe are believed to date as far back as 150 to 200 years ago.  

Beautification is not just for the females in Mursi but also for the male though the women specifically use the lip plate.

The men in this tribe prove how powerful they all by taking part in a donga where competitors wear kits.

The kit known as umoga serves as protection, beautification as it has shine guards from animal skin, leopard skin, headgear from cotton, and cattle bell on the waist.

What Happens When A Lady from Mursi Tribe Refuses to Wear the Lip Place

Recently, girls choose if they want to wear the lip plate or not, and those who refuse the lip plate are described as lazy and not deserving a considerable bride price.

People will also tag such a girl as a disobedient young female who disrespects cultures and traditions.

What is the standard form of lip plate?

The lip plate does not have any standard or mapped-out shape. Instead, every woman crafts her plate according to their choice, and some also take pride in including embellishment.

Leadership in the Mursi tribe

Individual elders implement the leadership in this tribe by whose position influences the entire local community.

Other criteria for the leadership role of a priest include oratorical skills, knowledge of the tradition, and debating skills.  

Every division has its priest called Komoru, and they represent the well-being of the community and an intermediary between people and God (tumwi).  

Why do Suri have lip plates?

The Suri have lip plates as a mark of beauty, pride, and in ceremonies and when serving their husband’s meal since they understand how much the hobby paid as Suri tribe marriage.

What African tribe stretched their lips?

The African tribe known for stretching their lips is the Mursi women and is famous for their wooden lip plate, which symbolizes beauty and identity.  

The Mursi girls have their lip cut and held open by a sopping wet plug till it heals.

How do Mursi people live?

The Mursi people live primarily along the banks of the Omo during the dry season and return to the grasslands at the east of the river when it’s rainy season. 

They return to the grasslands to reside close to their cattle and have fresh milk.

Does the Mursi tribe still exist?

The Mursi tribe, also called Mun, still exists as the surmic ethnic group in Ethiopia, and following the national census in 2007, plenty of Mursi tribes exist.

The 2007 census has it that there are 11,500 Mursi, with 848 of them living in urban areas and an average of 92.25% is living in the southern nation, nationalities, people’s region (SNNPR).


Like the unique tattooing design, the lip plate that Mursi women wear is also an expression of beauty, social adulthood, and reproductive potential.

Undoubtedly, wearing a lip plate guarantees a woman’s beauty in Mursiland, and the lip plate is a mark of identity within society.

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