Comparative Guts

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Mun (Mursi) belly painting

Mun (Mursi) belly painting
Photographer: Kate Fayers-Kerr

Mun Mursi belly painting: the Mun (Mursi) use mud and clay as a technique for grounding self and society in social, political, and cosmological space and order. Fayers-Kerr has persuasively shown how Mun painting and ideas about eating earth are closely connected to ideas about the gut, ingestion and digestion, and location. This photograph shows two men applying mud to their bodies (“eating mud”) as part of a ceremony of arriving and adapting to a place (and thus “vaccinating”). The drawing shows children’s conceptual schema of the importance of the belly and its scarification as part of the broader complex of Mursi ideas about eating mud and personhood.