Photographer's Note

Body art painting Surma Tribe Ethiopia

Painted Surma spend hours perfecting their appearance, primarily by covering their skin with a paste of chalk and water, and drawing designs with their fingertips, exposing the dark skin underneath.

Body paintings in Omo tribes unfortunately also show the increasing impact of foreign tourists. Surma tribes have developed and created new body paintings as well as new dress codes in order to attract tourists.

They have understood that they would be more eager to take pictures from them with such decoratives paintings and ornaments, and to pay for it. A few years ago, Surma boys started to disguise by wearing flower headdresses. These dress codes, invented for some of them, have lost their social and cultural meaning.

Noticing these strategies were successful neighboring tribes and villages started to imitate the Surma. These 'ethno-tourism' influence the material culture of the Omo Valley people and its expression, and by doing so, cause changes, they paradoxally donít want to see happening. It also makes wonderful pictures and books.

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Additional Photos by Michel Detay (mdetay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 487 W: 1 N: 1045] (4929)
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