Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Wedding ceremony of Hamar people

Wedding celebration back at the village, celebrated by friends and family

I grew up believing that Utopia and Ethiopia was the same place. Had a rough childhood and I liked the idea of of living in Utopia where the community/ people were heavenly pleasant, even a little lost child can roam freely without worries. In reality Utopia and Ethiopia is a completely different opposite in every each way. I discovered that Ethiopia is an african country next to Somalia and famously portrayed as a poor, under developed country and prone to experience famine, just like the rest of its neighbouring african country. This country  or any other african country has never been listed in my bucket list – of places that I need to visit before I die.

Out of curiosity (and my urge to try something different) I decided to join Photosafari Malaysia when they organised a trip to Ethiopia for the first time. Yup, it was an out of the world kind of experience and I ended up going there twice (first trip covering Southern part and second trip covering Northern part of Ethiopia). Ethiopia is geographically adventurous and Ethiopian are amazingly colourful people. It was a real eye opener for the ignorant me and I experienced my ‘advance’ humanity lesson here. Honestly, I need to write a 200-page book to be able to express everything that I had learned there. But, since my blog is about colour and jewellery then let us just stick to that 🙂

I was at Omo River Valley of Southwestern Ethiopia last year visiting a few ethnic people of Ethiopia like Karo, Hamar, Benna, Mursi and Dassecnech. The people of Hamar struck most of my attention probably because of the way they carried out themselves. They seemed to have the air and pride of a warrior. The same feelings that I felt while I was lingering around people of Afar from Danakil Depression, Northern Ethiopia. While hanging around with them at the market and their village, I noticed that male and female of Hamar people are very fashionable and colourful people. The choices of color on their jewelry were strikingly matched their skin colour. Their jewellery and accessories were either made of african seed beads or metal (like brass, copper and silver).

Lucky me, I had the opportunity to attend the famous Hamar Bull Jumping ceremony and a wedding celebration back at their village. Bull jumping or bull leaping ceremony is where a Hamar man has to successfully leap over a line of cattle in order for him to get married. It is an initiation right of passage to qualify him to get married, own cattle and have children. And, I managed to witness and captured a collection of photos of them with their full jewelry on display during both of the ceremonies. Images taken during my visit to the market, the Bull Jumping ceremony and during the wedding celebration are compiled into a gallery below . Detail description for each photo is included, click on each photo for full view and full description of the image.

There are great stories behind the Hamar’s unique fashion statement, you can visit Lars Krutak: Tattoo Anthropologist’s blog for details facts and stories. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my zenfolio gallery: Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Before the Bull jumping ceremony started, women from the groom’s side need to endure a series of whipping on their flesh to prove their love towards their men. Honestly, it was not a very pleasant scene to witness. I was traumatized by the whipping sound and seeing blood oozing out from a dangling flesh was not something that I want to share here. But you always can google for further information about the ceremony. The Hamer women are as fashionable as their men. If men can show off their brave accomplishment through their body scars and mud cap, women of Hamar have the same way to display their braveness and status to the public.

Other than body scarification, their fashion statement generally are based on their marital status (depending whether they are married, engaged or single). Married women wear their hair with that muddy hairstyle called goscha, some kind of fat and special mud (ochre imported from african neighbor country like Kenya) blended together to create a wet looking hair that they believed can attract their men. Married and engaged women of Hamer need to wear 2 neck rings around their neck, and an additional heavy neck ring called esente for the first wife of a Hamar man. Like their men, the jewelry and accessories for Hamar women are mostly made of  african seed beads and metals (either brass, cooper or silver) too. Below are some images of the Hamar women with their jewelry. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my zenfolio gallery: Colorful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

I bought myself a bracelet during my second trip there, a simple metal bracelet just to remind myself that I survived the Danakil Depression (the hottest place on earth) . We were at the Dalol of  Danakil Depression campsite when I saw Muhammad, a local Afar boy, wearing a bracelet that I kind of like and I ended up buying it from him for 300 bir. Well, I know it was kind of expensive but I was desperately in need to reward myself for being able to endure the agony that I had to experience during my visit. A sweat agony indeed … love every moment I spent here in Ethiopia … alhamdullilah

A metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression

The metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression

About Matsuda Mashimaru

Be yourself - everyone else is already taken! - Oscar Wilde View all posts by Matsuda Mashimaru

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