Facial Ornament
When rummaging far-stretched corners of the world, you sometimes run across weird things. This month, an Australian film crew, piloted by cinematographer Abrahem Joffe, came across the world’s largest lip disc in the faraway valleys of southern Ethiopia.

As per Joffe the crew made the discovery while filming a documentary series for Canon Australia. ‘We were taking a guided tour when we spotted the woman,’ he said.

Ataye Eligidagne, 20, wears the largest lip disk in the world. The lip disk is a colossal 59.5 cm in circumference and 19.5 cm in diameter – easily twice the size of the average disc. Lip discs are one of the old traditions amongst the Surma woman of the lower Omo Rover valley in Ethiopia.

The procedure involves knocking out the lower two teeth and is done on young girls aged 15-18 years. However, the Ethiopian government has taken a series of steps to ban the discs, and today the frequency amongst the younger generations has gone down greatly.

The discs serve varied purpose: they are meant to allure a husband, furthermore is a dowry for the family of the wife, who are gifted a battalion of cattle respective to the size of the disc.

Eligidagne has been pulling her lips out since three years after the first piercing. The procedure also involves extraction of lower two front teeth. 

Joffe sought the help of a local warrior while interviewing the girl — who translated for the guide, because the guides didn’t have a good command of Mursi, the local dialect. ‘During the interview, we offered her some Coca-Cola. It was a fascinating, because she had clearly never tasted anything like it,’ he said.


Joffe asked whether there were any problems that come with this weird tradition. ‘She replied it was not painful at all and there weren’t any adverse affects.’ However, Eligidagne feels her daughter would not likely adhere to the tradition.