This page details what’s commonly known as the Hamar Bull Jumping ceremony. It’s the coming of age ceremony for young men who must run across the backs of at least 3 bulls repeatedly. One of the controversial aspects of this ceremony is the whipping of the women, who pursue the whip holder to show their love and devotion to the family. The scarification (like piercings and tattoos in American culture) is a form of beautification and ritual.
The Hamar women are often recognized for their ochre colored hair. Each hairstyle represents their current status (single, engaged, or married) and will often be decorated with ochre that’s been made into a paste.
Ailo, Bulla, Alti, and Algo introducing themselves.
Alti & Bulla
The children don’t often get to see what they look like. The screen was turned towards them so they could see themselves as the video was being recorded.
Many of the tribes people are subject to tourists photographing them but almost never get to see the result and are left alone shortly after when the tourist loses interest.
Tribal toursim in Ethiopia is a somewhat uncomfortable topic as surrounding countries (like Kenya and Tanzania) have wildlife, but Ethiopia does not. As a result, the tribes feel a heavy burden of ‘being the country’s wildlife’ and has directly impacted them in both positive and negative ways.
The Bull Jumper
Each bull jumping ceremony may have one or more young men performing his coming of age ritual; this was one of them.
The women proudly wear their scars as signs of beauty and dedication.
Like the women, the men have their own form of beautification as they mix paints from natural sources and help decorate each others faces.
Women watch with mild interest as other women chase one of the whippers. They carry horns and bells that fill the air with a cacophony of music.
After an indeterminate amount of time singing, dancing, and whipping, everyone at once begins to migrate to the ceremony place. It can be anywhere from a 10 - 45 minute walk.
As the tribe begins to gather, a few of the men begin to wrangle the bulls into an unruly line.
While the women sing and dance, they help to contain the bulls, though some can easily get upset and will bolt through the crowd.
When all of the bulls are lined up, the young man must begin his trial. Why they divest of their clothes is not important, other than it’s what the tribe has done ever since the ceremonies began.
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