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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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