Karo

Karo

A tribe living on the east banks of the Omo, the Karo number about 1000. Tourists enjoy watching the Karo preparing themselves for a celebration or traditional dance when they decorate their bodies with chalk paint, often imitating the spotted plumage of Guinea Fowl. The Karo excel in face and torso paintings. Elaborate facemasks are created using locally found white chalk, yellow mineral rock, pulverized iron ore and black charcoal. Karo women scarify their chests to beautify themselves and become more appealing to their men.

The scarification of a man’s chest is made when he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. The scars are cut with a knife or razor blade, and ash is then rubbed in to produce a raised welt. Like the Hamar, the wearing of a gray and ochre clay hair bun with ostrich feathers indicates a man’s bravery.