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Bull Jumping

Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Along a dried river in southwestern Ethiopia, women of the Hamer tribe take part in “ukuli bula”, a bull jumping ceremony ritual that dates back centuries. Deemed a harmful practice by some, the three-day-long ceremony involves tribeswomen begging a group of ‘maza’ (men who have previously taken part in ukuli bula) to whip them until their bodies become bloodied. Adorned with bells around their calves and necklaces to signify their marital status, the women chant and dance in a circle for hours until a group of maza arrive with birch branches to initiate the whipping ceremony. The scars inflicted on the tribeswomen stay for life as a symbol of love and proof of their commitment to the tribe.

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