Murelle – Karo

The Karo people are among the smallest ethnic groups in southern Ethiopia with only between 1000 and 3000 estimated individuals remaining. They live on the east bank of the Omo River where they grow their crops. Once proud cattle herders, disease wiped out their herds and the neighboring Hamar occupied the grazing grounds.

Body painters

Karo man with painted body

Although more people in the Omo Valley practice body painting, the Karo are famous for elaborated decoration of their bodies. Different types of painting are used for certain ceremonies. Another way of decorating the body, widely used in the Omo Valley, is scarification. Different methods are used to create scar tissue for this type of body decoration. The reason for scarification varies from simple beautification to the marking of killed enemies.