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Meet the Ethiopian Tribe that Recycles Discarded Household Items into Incredible Fashion Accessories

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The Daasanach are a semi-nomadic tribe numbering approximately 50,000 individuals who live in the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia. In the past, the tribe roamed from place to place herding livestock around open areas according to the seasons and the changing availability of water. But over the last fifty years, having lost the majority of their lands, they have also grown dependent to agriculture. Like many tribes in the region, the Daasanach have moved to areas closer to the Omo River, where they attempt to grow enough crops to survive.

Meet the Ethiopian Tribe that Recycles Common Household Items into Incredible Fashion Accessories
Photographer – Eric Lafforgue

The Daasanach who herd cattle live in dome-shaped houses made from a frame of branches, covered with hides and woven boxes (which are used to carry possessions on donkeys when the Daasanach migrate). The huts have a hearth, with mats covering the floor used for sleeping. The Dies, or lower class, are people who have lost their cattle and their way of living. They live on the shores of Lake Turkana hunting crocodiles and fishing. Although their status is low because of their lack of cattle, the Dies help the herders with crocodile meat and fish in return for meat.

Meet the Ethiopian Tribe that Recycles Common Household Items into Incredible Fashion Accessories
Photographer – Eric Lafforgue

Fashion

An Interesting fashion trend amongst the Dassanach is their elaborate headgear, which they make from the strangest of materials bottle caps, wristwatches, hairclips, and other discarded pieces of plastic and metal modern manufactured goods.

Meet the Ethiopian Tribe that Recycles Common Household Items into Incredible Fashion Accessories
Young women of the Daasanach tribe – Photo: Mario Gerth

Their unique jewelry are also made out of everything from old digital watches to bottle caps, earrings from sim cards and necklaces from syringe caps. While the tribe are keen to sell their wares, they have become so fond of their iconic bottle cap hats that they keep them for themselves.

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Younger girls and children get the most basic version of the bradgear, while the oldest women are treated to the heaviest numbers with the most embellishment.

Meet the Ethiopian Tribe that Recycles Common Household Items into Incredible Fashion Accessories
Young women of the Daasanach tribe – Photo: Mario Gerth

To prevent their headwear from getting spoiled while they sleep, apparently they never take them off.

Women are circumcised by removing the clitoris. Women who are not circumcised are called animals or boys and cannot get married or wear clothes. Women wear a pleated cowskin skirt and necklaces and bracelets, they are usually are married off at 17 while men are at 20.

The Daasanach are known for their fighting prowess and are feared by many neighboring groups. Their unique culture is valued, and the Daasanach are reluctant to adopt outside technology.

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