Kara & Nyangatom

Omo Courtship


Kara Body Painting, Nyangatom Courtship Dance, Omo River, Ethiopia

After harvest, when the Kara have leisure time, courtship season begins. Young men go down to the river to paint elaborate designs on their bodies using a mixture of chalk and water, and ground red ocher. Their designs are inspired by the spotted plumage of their favorite bird, the guinea fowl.

Across the river, the Nyangatom celebrate the courtship season with a series of dynamic dances.  The girls arrive wearing the most beautiful beaded puberty aprons to attract the male eye. The men impress the women with their leaping dances. As the afternoon progresses the girls come forward one by one to select the partner of her choice. Couples form, jumping in unison from side to side. Suddenly, a man confronts his partner, catching her off-guard, and thrusts his hips her way in a seductive manner. She tries to dodge him until he finally catches her and the couple sway together evocatively.