Ritual Dance of Hamar women, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia - Stock Image

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Caption
Worbasha village in Omo region, Ethiopia - January 7, 2008: A group of Hamar women doing a ceremonial dance as part of the bull jumping ceremony. Skin and hair of the women is coloured with a mixture of red soil and butter. On the day of the ceremony the female relatives of the initiate assemble in the afternoon and demand to be whipped by the young men of the clan – they are singing and dancing and at the end of each dance they beg to be whipped on their backs. The lashing leads to raw and open wounds and the scars are visible for the whole life, but the Hamar woman are proud of these scars.
Description
A group of Hamar women doing a ceremonial dance as part of the bull jumping ceremony. Skin and hair of the women is coloured with a mixture of red soil and butter. On the day of the ceremony the female relatives of the initiate assemble in the afternoon and demand to be whipped by the young men of the clan – they are singing and dancing and at the end of each dance they beg to be whipped on their backs. The lashing leads to raw and open wounds and the scars are visible for the whole life, but the Hamar woman are proud of these scars.

The bull jumping ceremony is an initiation rite in which young men have to run naked four times across the back of a row of cattle. If they could complete this without faltering they are called a man and are qualified to marry, own cattle and have children. The whole festival means several days of feasting and drinking sorghum beer.

The Hamar (also Hamer) are semi-nomadic pastoralists and are living in the southwest of Ethiopia, in the lower Omo River valley. Up to now the Hamar are virtually untouched by the modern world, in their villages there are no schools or electricity.

See more images of the Hamar people:
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