Ethiopian women show off the lip plates they insert in their mouths to increase the size of the dowry their fathers will receive (photos)

Fascinating portrait images show Ethiopia’s Suri tribespeople whose traditions involve the insertion of huge clay plates into women’s lips.

The tribe inhabit the mountains of the Great Rift Valley in the plains of south-western Ethiopia and pride themselves on the scars they carry.

The clay plates, which can be as big as 16 inches in diameter, are first given to children when they are just 12 years old.

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Sarawut Intarob, 36, took the photographs and was told most women in the tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their lips pierced, then stretched, to allow the plates to be inserted.

The larger the plate, the more cows the girl’s father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries. Cattle are enormously important to the Suri people and bring status.

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The painful practice is less common in the younger generation of Suri women.

Women and children in the tribe also often decorate themselves with white clay patterns, and flowers on their heads.

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