Hamar Bull Jumping Ceremony or cattle leaping ritual is a cultural practice performed by a tribe at the Lower Omo River Valley Ethiopia. A Hamar man comes of age by leaping over a line of cattle which they call (Ukuli Bulla) in the native language and commonly called cow or bull jumping ceremony. The bull jumping ceremony qualifies a Hamar boy to marry, own cattle and have children. The timing of the leaping ceremony is decided by the man’s parents and usually happens after the harvest. Prior to the bull jumping ceremony the male Hamar who has to jump walks to neighboring settlements to announce his intent to jump and to distribute invitations (usually a strip of bark with a number of knots, one for each day left before the ceremony).
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On the afternoon of the leap, as guests gather for the bull jumping ceremony, the man’s female relatives demand to be whipped as part of the ceremony. The Maza (a man who has already jumped the cattle between three months) uses a long fin stick and strikes the girls on their exposed backs. This is a consensual act, with the girls begging and singing to the Maza so that he continues whipping them. This is not only a show of strength from the girls, who proudly show off their scars, but it also symbolizes their affiliation towards their kin. Her scars are a mark of how she suffered for her brothers and relatives. The young man who is to leap has his head partially shaved. He’s rubbed with sand to wash away his sins. He’s then smeared with dung to give him strength, while strips of tree bark are strapped around his body in a cross as a form of spiritual protection.
Hamar Cow Jumping Facts
The Maza and the elders line up between eight and twenty cows and castrated male bulls. To come of age, the man must leap across the line four times. Only when he has been through this initiation rite can he marry the wife chosen for him by his parents, and start to build up his own herd. Once his marriage has been agreed, a dowry of around twenty cattle and thirty goats must be paid to the bride’s family.
What is the bull jumping of the Hamar Tribe?
The Bull Jumping Ceremony is one of the most fascinating ritual of the Omo Valley tribes. Hamar bull jumping ceremony ritual is the initiation of Hamar boy for his marriage. One striking characteristic of the Hamar men and women is that they indulge in elaborate hair-dressing. The Hamar Men wear a clay cap on their head. It is painted and decorated with feathers. They also paint themselves with white chalk paste during the bull jumping ceremony. The women decorate their hair with clay and butter twisted into a striking long plait. Almost all tribes men of the Lower Omo hold a small pillow called borkota.
When Did Hamar Cow Jumping Start?
The Bull jumping ceremony starts after the harvesting season between August and November. The rainy season of the Omo Valley usually start between March and May. It is during this time that the Hamar will plant corn and sorghum to be harvested in 3 and 4 months.
Hamar Cow jumping locations
the Hamar people always do the cattle jumping ceremony on the eastern side of the Kazke River. Only one side of the Kazke river is believed as the real motherland of the Hamar tribe, which is why they only do this ritual on that side.