Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mursi Man + Sky, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, 2010

Before heading to Ethiopia seven years ago, my first inclination was to research the communities in the southern portion of the country. They were of course famous from the images through such publications as National Geographic, but this would be my first time in their midst. There were many which caught my eye, but there was one which struck me immediately.

This man belongs to that tribe, the Mursi of the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia. They are closely related to another community, the Suri. Between these two tribes exist the most incredible body art and adornments. Ranging from both painting to scarification, and including ear and lip plates, they are unlike any photographed by me over the past 20 years.

Estimates put their population at nearly 10,000, a remarkable number in relation to other communities from around the world. Their way of life is endangered as well, due to the dam being constructed by the Ethiopian government. They straddle the line of being admired by outsiders, and thought of as backward by their neighbors.

Many within Ethiopia resent the fact that many come to their nation to photograph the Mursi, and others like them in the Lower Omo Valley. Yet they know that without such tourism their lives would also be affected.

I admire this community very much and, regardless of warnings by others that this was an aggressive community, found the community to be kind and generous with their time. We stayed in a small town an hour or so away for the first two nights, then camped near their tiny village in the national park for our last night.

My stay in Ethiopia was short, less than three weeks. However I do hope that in the future my return will feature these two tribes, the Mursi and the Suri, and truly do honor to their beauty and strength.

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Across 100 film.

No comments:

Post a Comment