The Mursi people are settled around the Omo River and in the Mago National Park located in southern Ethiopia. Due to the climate, they move twice a year between the winter and summer months.
They mainly herd cattle but also grow crops.
They are well known for their unique clay lip plates and wooden disc earrings. Both men and women paint their bodies and faces extensively.
The Mursi women may have their lips cut at the age of 15 or 16. A small clay plate is then inserted into the lip.
Over years, larger plates are inserted into the lip causing it to stretch. The larger the clay plate, the more the woman is worth before she gets married.
It is said that the lip plates and scarring were originally used to prevent capture by slave traders.
A girls ears are pierced at a young age and, like the lip plates, larger and larger discs are inserted over the years. The size of the ear discs however do not carry the same significance of ‘worth’ as the lip plates do.
Both the men and women have extensive scarring. Although this is mainly for decorative purposes some of the mens scars can represent an enemy killed. Feathers, beads and copper bracelets are also extensively used for mainly aesthetic purposes.
David Ballam was born and schooled in Johannesburg, South Africa. He first attended university in Cape Town but later moved to Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape. He was introduced to the camera by Obie Oberholzer and in 2004 gained his Fine Art Degree with Honours in photography. David returned to Johannesburg and after several years’ experience in the commercial world of photography he reverted his attention back to his Fine Art roots. Intrigued and inspired by new faces, places, culture’s and customs David focuses his attention on taking any opportunity to travel and explore the African landscape, finding and creating images that transcend the subject matter into Fine Art prints.
Size : 120cm x 80cm
Frame : 4cm OP Frame