Stunning pictures show young tribesmen dripping with blood battling with sticks to win a bride for the last man standing.
“The outlawed “Donga” competitions were witnessed by Spanish photographer Xavier Gil Tabios, 62, while living with the Suri people in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia for seven days.
In one frame, a young man was training for the next round of combat, dripping blood from his head.
As she struggled to watch the horrific fights unfold, another picture featured a woman weeping.
Mr. Tabios, of Barcelona, Spain, said: “They are fighting for masculinity, for personal vengeance, and for a wife.”
Two by two, the players battle until one winner emerges from the tournament.
It can be an environment that is inhospitable. In order to have a celebration like this, you have to negotiate economically and you always make sure that the violence is not out of control.
In the end, when another clan came with weapons looking for trouble, we had to leave suddenly.
“It’s a complicated area but I’d still urge people to try this unique unrepeatable experience.”
The Mail Online reports that between 20 and 30 men compete in these stick fights that can occasionally lead to death, but a referee is often present to prevent this.
The Ethiopian government outlawed stick fighting in 1994, but the practice has continued.
Men are seen wearing handmade helmets in the Omo Valley, tossing long sticks at each other’s bodies.
In addition to proving themselves to women, the fights are designed to train young men in the turbulent region for future violence.
In battles with the Suri people, neighboring tribes such as the Nyangatom often participate.
During the stick fights, a referee is in place, but it remains a dangerous sport, particularly because the tribesmen have captured guns in recent years that are occasionally fired from the sidelines.
By using a Sigma 70-200 2.8 lens, Xavier captured the images on his Nikon D300 camera.