The Karo, also known as Kara are a small tribe with an estimated population between 1,000 and 3,000. They are closely related to the Kwegu tribe. They live along the east banks of the Omo River in southern Ethiopia.
                         Karo tribe`s people of Omo Valley Ethiopia performing initiation dance

                   Karo people and their hair care

They are surrounded by relatively wealthy and strong groups, in terms of cattle and population size. Karo, whose neighbors especially the Hamar (to the South East ) ,Bana (to the east ),Bashada (to the East ), the Mursi (to the North)and Nyangatom (to the west across the Omo river ) know them by the name Kara, speak a south Omotic language.

                                   Karo Tribe`s boy with his beautiful body painting decoration

The main subsistence crops of the Karo are sorghum ,maize and beans .They are also supplemented by bee-keeping and more recently fishing. They plant fields using rain, flood retreat and river bank cultivation but the most important source of grain production is river bank farming than the other two which is carried out both along omo river and on the shores of Lake Diba.

                            Karo people

The Karo used to have big ,magnificent houses when they were rich in cattle but after they have lost their wealth through tsese fly they adopted the much lighter conical huts of the Bume. 

                                           Karo woman and her baby over Omo River,Ethiopia

Every karo family own two houses-the conical shaped Ono which is the principal living room of the family and the flat roofed Gappa which is the center of several house hold activities.

                                                                          Karo tribe warriors

The Karo have Muldas- kind of gate having "Y" shaped wooden posts up on which are placed horizontal wooden pars. There are -Dus,Korcho and Labuk.
The most striking thing about Karo people's symbolic and ornamental expressions is the painted body and face decorations.

                     Karo tribe`s man from Ethiopia`s Omo Valley

 This is an elaborate process, which ranges from fine and elaborate details to rough, but striking paintings traced with the palms or fingers. The most beautiful expression is in the facial and chest paintings that combine white (chalk), black (charcoal), yellow, ochre, and red earth. They often imitate the spotted plumage of a guinea fowl.

                      Karo woman with a beautifying tribal marks on her chest

 Karo woman scarify their chests to beautify themselves .For the women of the Karo tribe in southern Ethiopia, beauty is literally skin deep. During childhood, girls allow their elders to cut scars onto their stomach. Scars are cut with a knife and ash is rubbed to produce a raised welt.
                   Karo woman with a tribal beautifying bodily marks (scarification)

"The main reason for my scars is to attract a male that will give me joy, because I will be beautiful and hopefully get a husband," says one girl during her Taboo interview.
        Pregnant woman from the Karo tribal area with scarification, Omo Valley, southern Ethiopia

Once a Karo girl has received the last of her scars, she's allowed to marry and have children.

The complete scarification of a man's chest indicates that he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. The scars are cut with a knife or razor blade and ash is rubbed in to produce a raised effect.

                                    Karo men

The wearing of a grey and ochre clay hair bun also indicates the killing of an enemy or a dangerous animal. Both forms of decoration carry the same symbolic meaning for the Karo as they do for the Hamar.
                Beautifully big eyes Karo tribe girl from Ethiopia Omo valley is a survivor of ritualized
                 infanticide (Mingi) practiced by the Karo tribe in southern Ethiopia. 

 Karos practice ritualized infanticide or Mingi (killing by putting dirt in their newborn children's mouths and leaving them to die). The Karo tribe kills infants born out of wedlock as that is seen as dire abomination and an unpardonable shame to ones family.

                             Karo boy at Korcho,Ethiopia with an awesome facial painting

 Infants conceived out of wedlock are abandoned in an isolated places. The child may either die out of dehydration or get killed by a beast if not found by non-tribesmen. 

                          Karo tribe children playing, Omo River,Etiopia

At the end of the harvest and at times of initiation and marriage, the Karo come together to enjoy dances. During the moonlight dances, the Karo men leap joining one another in long lines towards the women, who come forward one by one to select the man whom they favor.
                                        Beautiful Karo tribe`s girl

 Afterwards Karo man and women, coupling themselves, perform rhythmic and pulsating dances, thrusting their hips one against the other in the dusty atmosphere of early evening

                                    Karo tribal dance ceremony

. These dances often lead to marriage after the initiate has successfully accomplished. A Karo man may take as many wives as he can afford, but usually he marries only two or three. 
Outa Vri is a warrior of high status, having assisted in a raid upon the Daasanach for killing a friend's family member. He shows his status with a clay headpiece with ostrich feather, and will eventually obtain scarification across his chest. The number of earrings worn in one ear indicate his number of wives. 
Hamer Tribe, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia

The pilla (the Jumping of Bulls) is one unique cultural manifestaion the visitor shouldn't miss.

                    Karo tribe woman and her baby over Omo river,Ethiopia

They gather on the flat land outside Duss Village and dance with the men on one side and the women on the other at the beginning of a ceremony that will go on for many months. Bull jumping in the Karo tribe only happens once in a generation and here only four bulls are jumped over by the jumpers. The mothers of the bull jumpers wear ostrich feather headdresses.
                                Early morning for Karo tribe on Omo river - Ethiopia


      Awesome Photos of Karo People of Ethiopia`s Omo River

The Karo tribe is known for their expertise in body paint, facemasks, hair, etc. But what all Karo women (and men) share in common are scars. Dozens of scars line their stomach and chest – for men, it’s the chest only. When Karo daughters are young, their grandmothers and mothers cut their stomachs with a knife. Then, ash is rubbed into the wound in order to irritate it. This essentially creates an enormous welt that leaves a scar like the ones shown above.

Why do they do it? Men cut their chests and leave scars in order to represent a slain enemy from a rival tribe or a dangerous animal that was killed. Women who have many scars are considered beautiful and “sexy.” A woman is allowed to marry and have children when all of her scars are complete, and thus she is considered beautiful and fit to be a wife and mother.

Both men and women also paint their body to be attractive.

            Beautiful Karo tribe girl with her facial painting decoration and her hair styled with flowers

                         Karo tribe`s man with his facial painting decoration

Karo tribe girl with a beautiful haiorstyle

Africa | 'Little Karo Bandit' The Karo tribe lives at the lower Omo River, at Oromia South Ethiopia. This boy came from out of the bushes. You can see the brown river in the background.  | Image and caption © Mama Africa Photography ~ Yvon de Bruijn
'Little Karo Bandit' The Karo tribe lives at the lower Omo River, at Oromia South Ethiopia. This boy came from out of the bushes. You can see the brown river in the background. | Image and caption © Mama Africa Photography ~ Yvon de Bruijn

Africa |  Portrait of a Karo man.  Omo Valley, Ethiopia | © Kieron Nelson
Portrait of a Karo man.with an awesome hairstyle, Omo Valley, Ethiopia | © Kieron Nelson

Karo men

Karo tribal jewelry

Karo Mother at Sunrise
Karo mother

Young Karo Girl Near Overlook
Young Karo girl

Karo girl with her decorated facial painting and new beautifying marks

Karo woman with extensive scarification

Karo kids

Karo beautification marks

                                                                   Karo tribe kids

                                         Karo girl doing facial painting decoration on her pal

Karo boy on a stilt

Two Karo girls palying

Karo people, little boy with calabash in the Karo village Korcho.

Karo boy carrying a baby over Omo river

Beautiful Karo tribe girls

Karo men

little karo girl

Karo girls

Africa | Karo Tribe, Lower Omo River, Ethiopia | © Art Wolfe
Karo tribe Hairstyle

karo man

Karo man

Karo girl

Topless Karo tribe`s man

Karo girl showing the beautification marks on her stomach

Karo man

Karo young women

Karo family

Karo girl

Karo warrior

Karo girl

Karo girl

Young Karo women

Africa | Portrait of a Karo boy.  Omo Valley, Ethiopia. | © Daniele Romagnoli
Portrait of a Karo boy. Omo Valley, Ethiopia. | © Daniele Romagnoli


Karo man

Karo kids

Africa |  Portrait of a young Karo girl.  Ethiopia |  © Jan C Schlegel.

Karo boy relaxes in Kolcho,Omo River valley,Ethiopia

Karo boy

Karo kids

karo scarification

Karo people dancing

Karo girl

Karo boy standing on a fallen tree over Omo River

Karo body painting

Karo tribe`s woman and her child

Karo Boys Showing off

Karo lady

Africa | Portrait of a Karo child with the Omo River in the background. Omo Valley, Ethiopia | © Michael Sheridan.
Portrait of a Karo child with the Omo River in the background. Omo Valley, Ethiopia | © Michael Sheridan.

Karo Tribe, Ethiopa, Africa

Africa | From her Omo River Series | © Isabel Munoz

Karo woman and her kids

                                   Karo warriors

                             Little Karo boy 'Shoma' with body painting in the village Korcho.

                                  Karo women

   Beautiful Breastfeeding

             Fertility Dance,karo people

Sefi belongs to the Karo tribe in southern Ethiopia. They are masters of body and face painting. They use white chalk, charcoal, yellow, ocher and red earth. Handmade porcelain doll by Bets van Boxel

                    Karo children in circle

                                             Beautiful Karo girl

                                  Karo warrior

                                                 Young Karo girl

                             Karo woman shaving another woman

                                           Karo girl

                                                      Karo girl

                                   Karo old man

                       Karo men excel in body art

                      Karo man and his child

                                    Karo tribe warriors

fertility Dance,Karo people


  1. It's obvious that you're afraid of nudity, but quick to show women's breast. "Photographers like you disgusts me.


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