Portraits show ‘plug nose’ women of India’s Apatani tribe

The ‘plug nose’ women of India: Portrait photographs show the last of the Apatani ladies who once had their nostrils stuffed by elders to make them less attractive to hostile tribes

  • Portrait photographs show women of the Apatani tribe in the Ziro Valley in remote Arunachal Pradesh, India
  • Women show their nose plugs, traditionally intended to make women in the tribe less attractive to enemies
  • Images were captured by Lebanese photographer Omar Reda, 33, while he was travelling in north-east India

These stunning pictures show the last generation of the ‘plug nose’ women who once had their nostrils stuffed by elders to make them less attractive to hostile tribes.

Portrait photographs show women of the Apatani tribe in Ziro Valley, located in a remote part of Arunachal Pradesh, India.

The images show their nose plugs, a form of body modification originally intended to make females of the tribe less attractive and therefore less likely to be kidnapped by their enemies.


Stunning pictures show the last generation of the ‘plug nose’ women who once had their nostrils stuffed by elders to make them less attractive to hostile tribes


Portrait photographs show women of the Apatani tribe in Ziro Valley, located in a remote part of Arunachal Pradesh, India


Lebanese photographer Omar Reda, 33, took the photographs while travelling in north-east India, spending three days with a hundred of the Apatani people in their settlement

Other images also show a range of facial tattoos, another tradition of the female members of the tribe. 

Lebanese photographer Omar Reda, 33, took the photographs while travelling in north-east India, spending three days with a hundred of the Apatani people in their settlement. 


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‘I couldn’t take my gaze away from the nose plugs of the senior women,’ said Reda. ‘I visited many tribes around the world; this was my first encounter with such nose decoration. What shocked me more is the story behind it.’

Nose plugging was a ritual performed to make the women of the tribe look less appealing to potential kidnappers.


The images show their nose plugs, a form of body modification intended to make females of the tribe less attractive and therefore less likely to be kidnapped by their enemies


These images make up a collection of the last elder women to endure the ritual since it was declared illegal by the Indian government in 1970 

The elders of the tribe felt at the time that they had to do this in a bid to prevent the women being attacked.

These images make up a collection of the last elder women to endure the ritual since it was declared illegal by the Indian government in 1970.

In more recent years, the tribe have seen the nose plugging more as part of their identity and ‘cultural pride’, Reda said. 

Ziro Valley was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2014. 

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