Monday, January 28, 2013

Young Girl, Mursi Community, Mago National Park, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, March of 2010

She stood on our truck for this portrait, elevating herself above an already sublime environment. This was our last day with the Mursi Community, and we slept the night before in their midst in order to have a most perfect day.

We had some trouble early in the morning with the sun, but were rewarded soon after with pure rays. In this image she looks past her circle of houses while her entire village sits at her feet watching her being photographed. We worked with some of the men earlier, and had around us many young children waiting their turn.

One or two of the children were frightened of the truck, while most jumped up with a smile. She was of the latter group, and held her composure in the midst of chaos all around. She used a piece of fabric with a fabulous pattern to cover herself up, and only show her upper features. This was different than most of the others in that the dominant theme was the display of their beadwork, of their metal pieces. This young girl wanted to show us perhaps something different, more subtle. I appreciated this very much then and even more so now.

She lives in Mago National Park in the famed Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Although the area is quite remote, she is beyond familiar with tourists since a truckload of them appears every hour or so during the busy season. During our session a truck pulled up and the local population quickly gathered themselves to walk over to the new visitors, offering their artistic creations as well as their portraits for sale.

We intended to spend the entire day in the park, photograph in the morning and then in the late afternoon as the sun set. So we had plenty of time and waited for the tourists to leave before continuing with our work. Of course I considered myself a tourist as well, and only differed in my mechanism of documentation. Women approached me as they did the others, with their plates and discs in their hands. Their trick was to put an item out in front of me and have me take that item in my hand for viewing, or so I thought. Then they would walk away quickly, in theory forcing me to purchase it.

In the end I did purchase four plates with various sizes and colors. I look at them with immense pleasure often, and think of my time amongst one of the most magnificent communities in the world, that of the Mursi of the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia.
Halim Ina Photography

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