Archive for the ‘Omo Valley’ Category

Travelling to Southern Ethiopia you will visit wildlife and tribal communities as we follow the huge East African Rift Valley through the lush lakes region and on to the dry low-lying plains of the South Omo Valley just north of the Kenyan border. Visiting the various Omo tribes, observing their animist way of life and witnessing authentic customs and traditions, such as the bull-jumping and body scarification of the Hamer, the bizarre lip ornamentation of the Mursi and the intricate body-painting of the Karo, it may seem as if we’ve entered an Africa untouched by outside influences.Karo tribe Ethiopia

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Singing and dancing actually play a more important role in the music of the tribes in Omo Valley population than musical instruments. For dance people adorn themselves with a lot of beaded jewelry. Some of it is especially made for such occasions, for example foot rattles or straps for the upper part of the arm that swing up and down during dancing.

Hammer Dance_ Omo Valley

Music and Dance Omo Valley, Ethiopia

While many people might associate Ethiopia with drums, in Omo Valley they are not very common. Some of the groups use drums during mourning ceremonies to announce the death of a person from a long way off. Instead of a sign of joy and dance the drums are a sign of loss. More common than drums are five-stringed lyres made from Wood or tortoise shell, and flutes or finger pianos.

While lyres and finger pianos are instruments that are played in a private atmosphere with few listeners, the multi-tonal flutes are played by children who tend the fields, and sets of single-tonal bamboo flutes in Aari and Malle are played by a group of people during dances.

Singing and dancing actually play a more important role in the music of the tribes in Omo Valley population than musical instruments. For dance people adorn themselves with a lot of beaded jewelry. Some of it is especially made for such occasions, for example foot rattles or straps for the upper part of the arm that swing up and down during dancing.

While many people might associate Ethiopia with drums, in Omo Valley they are not very common. Some of the groups use drums during mourning ceremonies to announce the death of a person from a long way off. Instead of a sign of joy and dance the drums are a sign of loss. More common than drums are five-stringed lyres made from Wood or tortoise shell, and flutes or finger pianos.

While lyres and finger pianos are instruments that are played in a private atmosphere with few listeners, the multi-tonal flutes are played by children who tend the fields, and sets of single-tonal bamboo flutes in Aari and Malle are played by a group of people during dances.

Bracelets are an important part of the jewelry of all of the tribes of Omo Valley ethnic groups. Many groups wear simple brass bracelet such as the ones from Aari on the opposite page, while others have their own unmistakable style as the Mursi, who decorate their bracelets with lines of dots.

In many places bracelets are given to girls by their fathers for the work they are doing for them on the fields. For example, the dunda were given in formers times to girls in Aari when they married. The father of a girl would exchange tow cows for twenty dunda (ten for each arm of his daughter), which he then gave to his daughter as a reward for the work she had done in his house.

But bracelets are not only worn for beauty. Girls can rub the rows of bracelets they wear on both arms against each other while dancing and produce a rhythmic sound for the dancers. The wrist knives from Nyangatom can be used as a weapon during fights.Image

Metal bracelets are made by local blacksmiths. These are usually outcast by the people amongst whom they live. Even though jewelry and tools made by them are highly appreciated, and blacksmith also often have a ritual function, they have to live on the outskirts of settlements and intermarriage with them is prohibited.

Body adornment is important all around the world and usually, as it is also true for Omo Valley tribes, the time when people put most effort into adorning themselves is before marriage when they are in search of spouses. The pieces of jewelry on the opposite page are only a small selection f the manifold body adornment that can be found in the tribes of Omo Valley. People do not only decorate may parts of the body (e.g. their lips, ears, necks, arms, legs, skin and hair), but they also use huge variety of materials such as metal, beads made of glass and plastic, cowry shells, ostrich shells, leather, clay, wood and fruits of trees. Hammer Girls 1 Probably the most famous body adornments in Omo Valley are the lip plates of Mursi women made from clay or wood. As with many other practices the cutting of the lip for inserting a plate is labeled as ‘harmful traditional practice’ nowadays. Also seen as a ‘harmful traditional practice’ is the wearing of many beads around the neck (up to 7 kg) as practiced by Nyangatom women. As culture changes, so does the way people adorn themselves. As can be seen on the opposite page, women in Kara include pen caps in their necklace and Nyangatom women produce their own plastic beads by melting broken jerry cans.

Ethiopia is well known all over the world for its coffee. But how do the people in the Omo valley of this beautiful country enjoy the drink they are so famous for? As coffee is grown in the green hills of the Aari, Dime and Maale mountains, people have direct access to the coffee plant and all of its products. And they use more than just the coffee beans. People also use the leaves of the coffee pant to make tea to which they add ginger, several local spices and salt. In the lowlands of Omo Valley most people use the shells of the coffee beans to make tea. This tea is very light and people drink a lot of it, and in so doing they take in lots of liquid. The different products of the coffee plant drinks made from them explain the variety of objects that are related to coffee found in the Omo Valley. The pots for coffee and for tea made of coffee leaves are rather small (the coffee leaf tea being nearly as stimulating as regular coffee). The pots and drinking vessels used by people for making and drinking the tea of the coffee shells are comparatively huge. For more information please visit us at http://www.fanosethiopiatours.com/Image      

Gourds in Omo Valley

Posted: May 19, 2014 in Omo Valley

Gourds are planted all over South Omo and the containers and eating utensils made from them are used for various purposes: Large gourds are used to carry water and beer, smaller ones as containers for honey, milk or butter: gourd bowls are used as drinking and eating vessels.

After a gourd is brought from the field, it is put aside to dry. After its outside haredend and the inside rotted, it can be cut and made into a container. At that time it has a yellowish color that turns reddish after being used and rubbed with butter for a long time. Gourds are usually hang up in the ceilings of houses and therefore their color also changes from being smoked daily by the fire of the fire place.

While most gourds like water, beer or honey containers are not decorated gourds for special occasions or for certain people are prepared with much effort. For example the two beautifully decorated gourds from Arebore on the opposite page are made by lovers for their sweethearts, while the gourd that is decorated with burnt ornaments is only used by brides and bond friends in Maale. For more information please visit us at http://www.fanosethiopiatours.com/Image