Lip Plates: What the women of the Mursi tribe go through to beautify themselves

January 5, 2022
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The people of the Mursi Tribe are the type of people who have chosen to see beauty in an unusual dimension.

These people practise a form of body beautification called lip piercing and the wearing of lip plates.

This practice might seem strange and unusual to people who are not of the tribe, but this is something the people of Mursi take great pride in.

Who are the Mursi people?

The people of the Mursi Tribe live in the Omo Valley, which is an isolated region in Ethiopia.

They so much value their custom and tradition as they still wear their traditional clothing and accessories.

Mursi women are famous for their wooden lips plates which they wear after piercing their lips.

This is believed to be a symbol of beauty and identity.

This is not just done haphazardly. When a girl gets to the age of about 15 or 16, her lower lips get cut. This is sometimes done by her mother. After cutting, the lip is held open by a sodden plug till it heals. How far the lips should be stretched is up to the girl. The healing of the lip does take up to several months.

After the lip heals, then, a woman can start wearing her lip plate. The wearing of lip plates is more common to married girls and newlywed women than children and older women.

They are mostly worn on occasions like wedding, serving men food, milking of cows etc.

Even though this process is a very painful one, the people of Mursi believe it is worth it as it is not just only for the purpose of beauty.

Aside from the fact that it is a symbol of great beauty, it is also a symbol of commitment to the husband as it is worn with great price when serving him food.

They believe a woman’s external beauty fades after her husband’s death; therefore, if her husband dies, the lip plate is removed.

So also, the plate is a powerful visual marker of Mursi identity.

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