The Mursi people occupy the Omo River Valley in Southwest Ethiopia near the Sudan border. There are no reliable figures on the number of individuals in the Mursi tribe. The given records indicate very divergent estimates from only 4,000 natives to over 50,000. They are an extraordinary and colorful people who are steeped in rich traditions that appear to belong to another time. This is one of only two tribes which practice the use of distending the lower lip by the use of inserted plates. This custom only applies to women in the tribe. The ritual is called “dhebi a tugoin”. When a girl is fifteen years old, and sometimes younger, her lower lip is cut and a flat piece of wood is fit in. At later intervals, new wood is inserted to replace the old, each time increasing the size with a greater diameter. The intention is to stretch the lower lip to form the largest protrusion possible. Some have been known to enlarge the plate to a width of 10 inches. On the woman’s wedding day, a plate made of burnt clay is inserted to replace the wooden disc. This insert is called a “daby” or “dhebi”. Some believe that the origin of this practice occurred generations ago when the girls or their parents deliberately inflicted this deformity so that the girls would be less attractive to slave traders. This claim, however, has not been substantiated. Today, submitting to the lip extension is the decision of the girl. Although it is a choice, and not a requirement, the current practice has come to be associated with beauty and greater prospects for marriage. The greater the size of the plate means a greater amount paid for the bride. That payment is usually made in cattle. There are many drawbacks in the use of the plates. Sometimes upper teeth are pulled to avoid scraping the plate, or the tongue can become irritated or infected. Also, the plates must be removed to eat. Among men, there are two different rites of passage. One of these is the Donga Ceremony. In this ritual, young boys establish their manhood in a tradition called “thagine”. It is a combative sport using wooden poles called “donga”, and protective clothing called “tumoga”. The sport simulates battle. In the interaction, each combatant is allowed to hit the other with the side of the donga, but not with the point. The donga is taken from the Kalochi tree, and is about six feet in length. The second rite of passage for young men is the Bull Leaping Ceremony. This ritual is required before a man can buy cattle or start a family. In this ceremony, cows are lined up together. The participant must run naked across the backs of the cows. Usually a total of six cows are used. He must repeat this four times without falling down in order to pass the test. Then he is eligible to marry. When a man marries, he is allowed to have any number of wives, if he is able to pay the bride price and is able to support them. One tribal ritual is the deliberate scarring of the body. Gashes are produced to show courage. Men are “gashed” on their right arms. For women, the gashes are put on their left arms. Those who excel in battle have gashes put on their thighs. Another tribal custom is tattooing. First notches are cut into the skin. Then insect larvae are inserted under the skin through the notches. The larva die under the skin, leaving raised bumps on the surface skin. Sometimes the elongated lines of raised bumps can be very elaborate and cover the entire chest or arm. Both sexes wear necklaces of animal bones, especially using bones of the warthog. These are kept shiny by daily application of melted animal fat. Within the tribe, bartering or sharing of resources are central to the effective working and cooperation of the tribe. Some Mursi raise corn on their small farms, while others are Nomadic cattle herders. As more lands become designated for national parks, grazing lands will be off limit, and land for small farms may disappear.