You are here: Home Introducing the Mursi Body Decoration Scarification


As boys and girls approach their full height, they begin to cut small notches into their skin which heal as decorative scars, called kitchoga,  on their chest, in a single arc shape over the breasts, and an ‘m’ shaped double arc on the upper arm.  Cuts are made by lifting the skin with a curved thorn and then cutting the skin with a sharp razor blade; obsidian was used in the past (Eczet, 2012).  Girls alone had kitchoga on their stomach and in the past, on their back, since traces are still faintly visible on the backs of women of an older generation.  While for older boys and young men may continue making kitchogaafter having children, the ideal age to do kitchoga for girls is once her breasts have formed; any earlier and people say that the kitchoga will fade while the girl grows and it is rarely done after having children. I came across many married women with unfinished kitchoga, and several such women told me it had either been too ‘painful’ (waddino) or they had ‘forgotten’ (dhinyakayino) to finish it. Pre-menstrual girls have kitchoga done following an illness experience (Eczet, 2012).

ECZET, J.-B. 2012. Les belles idées de la défigurée: à propos du plateau labial des Mursi (Ethiopie). Images Re-vues, EHESS, 10, 1-21.

Document Actions