New Delhi: It may look odd to us, but in the Ethiopian Suri tribe, this enormous lip plate is actually a sign of beauty.
When girls hit puberty they have their bottom two teeth removed in a bizarre ritual before a small hole is cut into their bottom lip.
When a woman becomes engaged to be married, usually in her teens (around 14 or 15), she disappears from village life to live in her family hut.
The gap between her front lip and the flesh below is pierced and gradually stretched. In the beginning a hole is made in the lip with a wooden stick.
The strecth continues as successively bigger discs of clay or wood are accommodated by the disfigured lip.
Generally the two lower front teeth are pulled out to aid the process. The final size of the plates determines how many cattle the woman will receive as a dowry, so the more stretched her lip the better, and the more the more cattle the woman is worth.
Some women have stretched their lips so as to allow plates up to 20 centimeters in diameter. Having a lip plate is considered a sign of beauty.
The origins of this tradition are unknown. Sometimes the lip is broken by the pressure of the lip plate.
This is a very big problem for girl because men will consider her as ugly, she won't be able to marry anyone in the tribe apart from old men or ill people.
Although it is seen as a sign of beauty nowadays, it is said that the disfigurement began as a way to prevent slavers from seizing Suri women.