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Lip Plates and Labrets

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Saved by boselw@u.washington.edu
on May 18, 2009 at 3:57:28 am

Labrets: Lip Plates, Disks, and Pegs





       •••••http://lissanonline.com/blog/?p=340•••••http://www.lars.dj/ethiopia/04%20surma%20mizan%20-%20kibish/F1010001.JPG •••••http://www.jefallbright.net/images/20050804a.gif•••••



Lip plates, disks, and labrets were a fairly common practice across Africa through the mid 20th century.  Today in Africa only the Mursi people in Ethiopia, the Nuba in Sudan, and the Lobi in West Africa continue to wear their lip disks, pegs or plates, as this form of body modification is a diminishing practice around the world.  It has been debated in the literature for what reason this practice started.  In the Mursi, by far the most famous or infamous group known to wear labrets today, it has been variously suggested that it is meant as an indication of a woman's status or wealth, the amount of cattle that she will be worth at marriage, and as a deterrance to those in the slave trade, with the first two reasons being predicated on the size of the plate.  However, according to David Turton who lived and worked among the Mursi for 30 years, none of these is the case, as marraiges are often arranged before the lip has ever been cut, and due to the simple fact that this is not the only group to practice this form of body modification. He argues that the reasons behind it therefore much be much more nuanced and rooted.

For more info, try these websites:

http://www.ezakwantu.com/Gallery%20Lip%20Plugs%20Lip%20Plate.htm  ••••• general info, but some neat older photographs you can look at.

http://www.mursi.org/life-cycle/lip-plates ••••• essentially a shorter version of the David Turton article referenced, a good overview of the Mursi tribe's labret practice

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mz1vaTeUSY ••••• a bit of a BBC documentary, not necessarily accurate (see above), but interesting, as it allows you to see people speak about it themselves.


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