Culture History

The Surma People | A Tribe Where Lip Plates Are Beauty Oriented

In Southwestern Ethiopia is where the Surma people dwell, a land filled with mysteries and suspense.  The women are famous because of the lip plates they wear.  The people raise cattle that are considered an important asset to the people.

A man may need to have up to 60 cattle before he can get married. Before a marriage can be concluded, a man is expected to give cattle to the bride’s family as an exchange.  The people drink blood of the animals instead of the milk during the dry season.

The women are famous for the lip plates they wear that are created out of clay. Scaring of the bodies is common between the men and women. The men are engaged in tribal fights that have to do with sticks called the Dongas.  When you find a Suri man having a scar, it simply means that he must have killed a person from a rival tribe.

The people have a sky god they called Tumu. The people have strong belief in female diviners and spirits.  Rainmaking is a common skill that is passed from male to another through heredity. The stick fight is a ceremonial event where the men fight to win their brides. However, this stick fighting is dangerous and many people have died from it.

The married women are in change of every household while the men make decisions. The women are not allowed to debate their opinions. These women are considered beautiful and strong with their lip plates.  The Surma women beautify their skins with intricate scarification. The kids and women also decorate themselves with flowers and white clay pattern.

At puberty, many of the young women will have their lower teeth taken out to allow them get their lower lips pierced. When the lips are pierced, they are stretched to accommodate the lip plate.

The Surma people are a few Africans who share cultures and lifestyles that are rather strange. No matter how they are perceive by outsiders, these people live a life that they love. Since culture vary from one place to another, so is the way beauty is judge.

Thinking of seeing these people, you can visit them and learn more about them. We can tell you that Ethiopia is a great place to have your holiday. Nothing stops you from coming to the Surma people to witness this culture firsthand. Do you think these people are strange? What is your take on their culture?