This month, an Australian film crew, led by cinematographer Abrahem Joffe, stumbled upon the world’s largest lip disc in the remote valleys of southern Ethiopia.
Joffe told Daily Mail Australia the crew was filming a documentary series for Canon Australia when they made the discovery.
‘We were taking a tour with some of the local guides. When they spotted the woman, they were absolutely bewildered,' he said.
‘I’m a big reader of Guinness World Records and I figured it was out of the ordinary, but you know you've found something special when the locals are amazed.’
Ataye Eligidagne, 20, dons the largest lip disk in the world. At a whopping 59.5 cm in circumference and 19.5 cm in diameter, it’s over twice the size of the average disc.
The previous record disc in the Guinness Book of World Records was 15cm in diameter.
Lip discs are a long-running tradition amongst the Surma woman of the lower Omo Rover valley in Ethiopia.
There is evidence of woman wearing the discs in this region from 1896. The procedure, which also involves knocking out the bottom two teeth, is done at the age of 15-18.
In recent times, the Ethiopian government has taken measures to ban the discs, and the frequency amongst the younger generations is reportedly dwindling.
The discs carry a multifaceted significance. They are intended to attract a husband as well as a dowry for the family of the wife, who provide a contingent of cattle respective to the size of the disc.
‘I think that locally, it's a matter of pride. The larger the disc, the more impressive. Young people try to outdo each other all over the world.'
Eligidagne has been stretching her lips for three years since the initial piercing.
The process also involved the removal of bottom two front teeth.
Joffe asked for their guides to translate for the woman so he could interview her, but the guides were not fluent in Mursi, the local dialect, so they had to use a local warrior to translate for the guide.
‘During the interview, we offered her some Coca-Cola. It was a fascinating, because she had clearly never tasted anything like it,' he said.
‘Ataye poured it onto her tongue with the disc in place, and suddenly had this stunned expression. It was incredible.’
Joffe asked if there were any hurdles that come with such an unusual tradition.
‘She said it was not painful at all and there weren't any adverse affects.'
But Eligidagne acknowledged that the discs may not be around forever.
‘When we asked her if her daughter would adhere to the tradition, she said wasn’t sure her daughter will see it the same way, and she would respect her daughters decision on whether or not to do it.’
Music : Whimsy Groove by Kevin MacLeod
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