The Mursi are one of the many African tribes and also one of the remotest tribes. They live in the lower Omo Valley in southwestern Ethiopia, 100 km north of the Kenyan border.
Mursi have a reputation to be fierce warriors. They often wear strange headdresses with feathers. The bright colors are a stark contrast to their hard features. The abstract patterns painted on their faces are complex and carefully applied. They do this with liquid plaster, applied with their fingertips. The habit of painting the face, as a sign of beauty or frighten the enemy, is deeply rooted in this culture.
Mursi women often decorate themselves with cow horns and shells found in the river. The big labret (dishes) in their tongue are signs of elegance and prestige. To make room for the labret, a painful surgery is necessary: the lower incisors are removed with a scalpel and chisel.
Used materials: Clay, cloth, feathers etc.
Height (without feather): 27 cm.
Width: 17 cm.
Used materials: clay, cowhorns, rope, leather etc.
Height: 24 cm.
Width (including horns): 22 cm.
In various African cultures, it was believed that these sculptures possessed supernatural powers. The manufacture of the fetishes, required a partnership of two people, the woodcutter and the medicine man. The first was able to create the image, but only due to the help of a medicine man, it could become a fetish. He added the magical substances (in a cavity in the abdomen or back) and performed the rites from which the image derived his supernatural power.
These images often have many attributes which, they believed, increase his strength. Such as horns on the head, metal applications on the face, feathers, animal skin, nails, horns filled with magical substances etc.
Wooden Fetish sculpture 'Songye'
Used materials: Wood, goatskin, water buffelo horn, nails, shells, clay, hartebees horn, horsetail etc.
Height: 98 cm.
Width: 44 cm.
Fetisj beeldje ' Nkisi'
Used materials: Clay, cloth, feather, nails, leather etc.
Height: 45 cm.
Width: 12 cm.
Surma children like to compete with each other in terms of decorating their bodies. Here a Surma girl with paint and a creation of mud, clay and feathers on her head.
Used materials: Clay, feathers, cloth etc.
Height: 43 cm.
Width: 16 cm.
Dept: 10 cm.
Karo's also devote considerable attention to painting their bodies. Men are often even more extreme than women, as shown here.
Used materials: Clay, paint, beads etc.
Height: 21 cm.
Width: 18 cm.
Dept: 9 cm.
Clay mask, made during a trip through South Africa.
Used materials: 3 types of African clay.
Height: 33 cm.
Width: 21 cm.
Dept: 12 cm.