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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Stunning images show Suri tribeswomen who slice their lips aged 12 to insert lip plates

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Stunning images have captured the women of the Suri tribe who slice their lips aged twelve to insert plates measuring up to 16 inches as a symbol of beauty. 

The pictures taken by Raúl Barrero, 39, from Alicante, Spain, show matriarchs of the tribe clad with clay plates as they posed for portraits in Kibish, Omo Valley, Ethiopia.

One picture shows a woman taking her clay plate off to display her stretched lips after years of wearing the device. 

Another photo showed an old woman smoking a bong-like apparatus whilst wearing a ten-inch lip plate.

Stunning images have captured the women of the Suri tribe who wear lip plates measuring up to 16 inches as a symbol of beauty in Kibish, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Stunning images have captured the women of the Suri tribe who wear lip plates measuring up to 16 inches as a symbol of beauty in Kibish, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

An old woman smoking a bong-like apparatus whilst wearing a ten-inch lip plate

A woman poses for a portrait by photographer Raúl Barrero, 39, from Alicante, Spain, with her child

An old woman smoking a bong-like apparatus whilst wearing a ten-inch lip plate (left) while a woman poses for a portrait by photographer Raúl Barrero, 39, from Alicante, Spain, with her child (right)

Used as a status symbol, the larger the lip plate, the more cows the girl's father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries - cattle are enormously important to the Suri people as a mark of wealth

Used as a status symbol, the larger the lip plate, the more cows the girl’s father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries – cattle are enormously important to the Suri people as a mark of wealth

A woman takes her clay plate off while she works to display her stretched lips after years of wearing the device. The scars left behind when the plate is not in place are also said to be attractive

A woman takes her clay plate off while she works to display her stretched lips after years of wearing the device. The scars left behind when the plate is not in place are also said to be attractive

Used as a status symbol, the larger the lip plate, the more cows the girl’s father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries – cattle are enormously important to the Suri people as a mark of wealth.

Although becoming less popular among the young, most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted – a right of passage carried out from as young as 12.

At puberty most young girls have their two lower teeth removed in order to get their lower lip pierced for face plates, this usually happens a year before they are to be married. 

Sometimes even four teeth are removed to allow a bigger plate inserted, as it is believed that the size represents social and economic importance to the tribe. 

Women and children in the tribe also often decorate themselves with white clay patterns, and flowers on their heads. 

Although becoming less popular among the young, most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted - a right of passage carried out from as young as 12

Although becoming less popular among the young, most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted – a right of passage carried out from as young as 12

Piecing earlobes for large plates is also common, but children are exempt from the practice. Women and children in the tribe also often decorate themselves with white clay patterns, and flowers on their heads

Piecing earlobes for large plates is also common, but children are exempt from the practice. Women and children in the tribe also often decorate themselves with white clay patterns, and flowers on their heads

Raúl used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III to capture the tribe that are known for their intensely painful traditions and rituals

Raúl used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III to capture the tribe that are known for their intensely painful traditions and rituals

The Suri Baale people live to the west of the Omo Valley, Ethiopia, and share a similar language with Chai and Timaga ethnic groups. Collectively, they are known as the Surma. 

Outside of these two politically and territorially different neighbours, they have no contact with the outside world and are over 60 miles away from the nearest city of Arba Minch, Ethiopia. 

Very few even know any Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The Suri groups share a similar culture, and display social and historical kinship with the Mursi and Me’en groups.

Omo Valley is home to eight different tribes with a collective population of 200,000 people.  

Raúl used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III to capture the tribe that are known for their intensely painful traditions and rituals.

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