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Swallowed up by modern life: The ‘disappearing’ tribes in Africa and Asia battling to keep their ancient traditions and beauty rituals alive

Our connected world has brought modern ways and technology to even the furthest corners, but what many would view as positive progress has also put rural and remote tribes and their traditions at risk of extinction.

This photo series shows men, women and children of some of the indigenous people of Africa and Asia, and their traditional methods of achieving their idea of beauty.

This includes the tattooed former headhunters of northeastern India, the women of Ethiopia’s Mursi tribe who stretch their bottom lips with clay discs, and the neighbouring Hamer people who create stunning beaded clothing.

Tradition: Teenage girls of the Hamer, or Hamar people, a tribe that can be found living in the Omo River valley in Ethiopia
Tradition: Teenage girls of the Hamer, or Hamar people, a tribe that can be found living in the Omo River valley in Ethiopia
Female members of Ethiopia's Mursi tribe, which number less than 10,000, wear large clay discs in their lower lips
Female members of Ethiopia’s Mursi tribe, which number less than 10,000, wear large clay discs in their lower lips

Other remarkable photographs show a woman from the Himba tribe in Namibia wearing traditional headdress and both men and women from the Kalinga tribe in the Philippines with tribal tattoos all over their body.

The striking shots were taken by Polish photographer Adam Koziol who has travelled the world documenting tribes.

‘I would like to show the beauty of the cultures and the variety of origins of the people all over the world,’ he said.

‘Most of the tribes have lost their culture, being assimilated into modern world and now it is just history. Now there are only signs like tattoos or scarification which mean that this person was one of the tribes member. These people can tell something about this culture – how was it before.’

One of the tribes photographed by Mr Koziol are the Mursi, which numbers less than 10,000, and live in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.

The Mentawai people live on the Indonesian islands of the same name, and are known for their decorative tattoos and the practise of sharpening their teeth, which they believe make them more attractive to the opposite sex
The Mentawai people live on the Indonesian islands of the same name, and are known for their decorative tattoos and the practise of sharpening their teeth, which they believe make them more attractive to the opposite sex
Stunning: Women on Ethiopia's Karo people, with white clay paint on their faces and labret piercings
Stunning: Women on Ethiopia’s Karo people, with white clay paint on their faces and labret piercings
Hidden beauty: A woman from the Himba tribe, who live in northern Namibia. From puberty Himba women braid their hair and veneer each one with clay and red soil, and use the same mixture to paint their bodies red
Hidden beauty: A woman from the Himba tribe, who live in northern Namibia. From puberty Himba women braid their hair and veneer each one with clay and red soil, and use the same mixture to paint their bodies red

They are known for the large clay discs many of the women wear in their bottom lip. The lip-plate is a coming-of-age process for women in the Mursi tribe, with a teenage girl traditionally having her bottom lip pierced at around age 15.

The cut is plugged with a piece of wood, and once this initial piercing has healed, the girl can begin stretching her lip with clay or wooden discs.

Not far from the Mursi live the Hamer, also spelled Hamar, who use clay and fat to create their distinctive hairstyles, and decorate their clothes with colourful beads.

Another Omo Valley tribe is the Karo. Karo people use white clay to paint their bodies, starting anew every morning, creating everything from animal patterns to stars, spots and flowers on their skin.

Beauty: The Hamer tribe use clay and fat to create their distinctive hairstyles, and decorate their clothes with colourful beads 
Beauty: The Hamer tribe use clay and fat to create their distinctive hairstyles, and decorate their clothes with colourful beads 
Fighting spirit: The Iban, also known as Sea Dayaks, mostly live in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and used to be known as a fearsome warrior tribe
Fighting spirit: The Iban, also known as Sea Dayaks, mostly live in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and used to be known as a fearsome warrior tribe

Mr Koziol has so far documented 18 tribes in Africa and Asia, but has a list of 50 more he wants to reach in future.

‘I think it was the first tribe I managed to take some pictures of, the Iban tribe, who left the biggest impression on me,’ added Koziol.

‘Apart from that, it was a great adventure for me to be around the Mentawai people in Siberut Island next to Sumatra. It is a unique shamanic culture shrouded in mystery.

‘I also felt amazingly good in the Konyak tribe in India, the culture of the former headhunters, who converted to Christianity.’

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