The scars on this woman are wore with pride. She was whipped with a slender stick when her son or another close younger male became a man in the Jumping of the Bulls ceremony. The young guy runs across the backs of a row of cattle (not all of them are bulls) to prove his manhood. I’m not sure why running over some cows is considered manly but in Southern Ethiopia it is. In fact if the young guy was to slip off, he’d been embarrassed beyond belief. It’s a big deal and all of his relatives will be there and this is when the women folk will begin wailing and begging to be whipped. Apparently it is a sign of devotion and their love for him that compell them to do it. Hmmmm. Anyway after they have been whipped, they’ll rub ash into the cuts and bloody wounds to help produce a infection which results in impressive scarring. There’s nothing like a few bloody wounds and a raging infection to really say “I love you”.
Whipped Hamer woman in Tumi
Turmi, Omo Valley, Ethiopia
The Hamar are known for their unique custom of "bull jumping," which initiates a boy into manhood, if you can time your trip to see one of these three day events.
Written by Dean
Photography by Dean