Photos Many hours of grooming and face painting are carried out to transform a Kara man for courtship. The hair is covered with clay and carefully moulded into two buns symbolic of bravery. Into these buns, macramé knots are inserted which will hold ostrich feathers worn at courtship dances. Finally, intricate spotted patterns painted over the face and hair complete the mask-like look.The Kara live in a remote wilderness area along the banks of the Omo River. Pastoralists by tradition,they now supplement their diet by growing millet and corn on either side of the river, and traverse the river daily in dug-out canoes to cultivate their crops. The ocher paint that the Kara use to decorate their bodies comes from mineral rock containing a high level of iron oxide found along the river.Painted in white chalk, a Kara man walks through his village of traditional domed grass huts, on his way to a courtship dance. When we first visited the Kara there are only three village of this kind left, housing a population of pproximately one thousand. Today there are just under three thousand.After the harvest, when the Kara have leisure time, courtship season begins. Young men go down to the river bank to paint elaborate designs on their bodies using a mixture of chalk and water. The designs will wear off after a day of dancing and be repainted the next morning.Reflecting their bond of friendship, young Kara men often adorn themselves with identical patterns.these two men have applied chalk paint in an intricate design imitating the spotted plumage of the guineafowl, the favorite bird of the Kara.During the coutship season, Kara men decorate their torsos and faces with a variety of designs using their fingers to draw and create dots on the wet skin.Recently, influenced by outside visitors, the Kara youth have added flowers, fruit, and Mohawk-like hairstyles to their body decoration.While decorating his body, a Kara man focuses on his chest to emphasize virility and strength. Kara men decorate their chests with a variety of designs using their fingers to draw, or small branches with splayed tips as stamps. A beaded necklace may be carefully placed to enhance his chest design of spots and lines.In order to attract females, Kara men decorate them- selves lavishly using clays and pigments found naturally in the Omo River region. White chalk, yellow mineral rock, iron ore, and black charcoal powders are painstakingly applied to imitate exotic bird plumage, and feather plumes are inserted into their clay hair buns to complete the look. Patterns of vertical lines or dots covering a man’s chest announce his bravery. Having won the hand of his chosen partner, a Kara man may go on to take as many wives as he can afford, but he usually marries only two or three.In preparation for the seasonal courtship dances, Kara men apply a white chalk base to their skins and lay a pattern on top of it using ocher paste containing iron ore and black charcoal powder. Karo face painting emphasizes the power of the eyes in order to enhance natural magnetism.Intentionally designed to compliment the appearance of the girl he admires, this man’s face-paint is the exact mirror-image of hers. To complete the look, he wears a beaded headband and several brass earrings. A Kara woman of southwest Ethiopia spends hours perfecting her clay-ball hairstyle, pigment face paint, and layers of glass and wild banana seed necklaces, all of which increase her attractive- ness to the opposite sex.Performing the courtship dance, young Kara men form long lines and leap high in the air to show off their beautifully painted chests and to impress the admiring young women with their energy and vitality.In Kara courtship dancing, a man blows a carved wooden horn, while elders strike warrior-like postures, reenacting past victories in cattle raids.Neighbours of the Kara, Nyangatom women, throughout their lives wear many layers of beads, which indicate wealth, beauty, and status. Cowrie shells, symbolic of fertility, are sometimes used to embellish the collection.Short puberty aprons are worn by unmarried Nyangatom girls to enhance their beauty. They are embellished with locally made aluminum, iron, and ostrich eggshell beads, or with imported glass beads found in the local markets.During the courtship dances, unmarried Nyangatom girls, dressed in their finery, approach the male dancers. The puberty aprons worn by the girls reflect the style, color and design unique to the Nyangatom.A Kara girl from the Omo River region highlights her eyes and lips with white chalk paint and wears many cowrie shell necklaces, symbolic of fertility.A highly spirited Karo couple engage in a rhythmic, pulsating courtship dance. Thrusting their hips against each another, they quickly become consumed by the dance’s seductive nature.The Kara people are reknowened for their lively courtship dancing with bodies and faces decorated with chalk paste. The courtship dance ends with the couples holding each other tightly and swaying in unison.A Kara man, named Amerikan, named after the brief visit of an American missionary to the Omo, meticulously paints his face with white chalk paste, ocher pigment, yellow clay, and charcoal powder. His highly original use of geometric design has produced a dramatic effect that will make him stand out as he dances. Body beautification is a transporting pleasure for the Kara and a highlight among the hardships of everyday life.