They are one of the most known tribes in Southern Ethiopia. They inhabit the territory east of the Omo River and have villages in Turmi and Dimeka. Tourists visit the hammer hoping to see a traditional leaping ceremony (the jumping of bulls).
They are cattle herders and practice agriculture. Very colorful bracelets and beads are worn in their hair and around their waists and arms. The practice of body modification is used by cutting themselves and packing the wound with ash and charcoal. Some of the women wear circular wedge necklaces indicating that they are married. Men paint themselves with white chalk to prepare for a ceremony. Hair ornaments worn by the men indicate a previous kill of an enemy or animal.
Bull jumping ceremony
The Hammers are a tribal people in the Southern Region Ethiopia. Hammer an isolated people whose traditional lifestyle have been untouched and are largely pastoralists, so their culture places a high value on cattle.
The Hammer have “rites of passage” called Bull Jumping ceremony (Ukuli Bula) which represent a life-changing event for the young man (Ukuli) who passes from boyhood in to adulthood. This rite of passage must be done before a man is permitted to marry. This is a ceremony which determines whether a young Hammer man is ready to make the social jump from immature member of his society to responsibility of marriage and raising a family. Bull Jumping Ceremony is usually held after harvest time, July to March. The ceremony lasts the whole day, but the most spectacular part of it begins in the afternoon after four o’clock.
First the family of the boy to be initiated delivers invitations to their relatives, neighbors and friends in the form of rope made of dried grass knotted (tied) in several equal number of places. The ceremonies end with several days of feasting, including the typical jumping dances, accompanied by sorghum made beer and coffee which the Bull-jumper’s family provides to the guests.
On the day several hundred guests gather, among them the Maza (who are still single and have recently done the bull jumping ceremony) who arrive in a long line decorated with feathers, necklaces, and bracelets and carrying long thin, flexible branches which will be used……
The young women of the Ukuli family with the exception of the mother, come to the ceremony highly decorated, their hair and bodies covered with butter ,dancing, singing , whistling and blowing horn in circles, ……….
The Maza strikes the girl so that the end of the whip hits her on the back. It is in this way the Hammer women can demonstrate the strength of their devotion to the boy. The more abundant and extensive the bleeding of their back from the whip, the deeper the girls’ affection to the boy who is about to become a man.
They line up about 15 cattle side by side, one holding the head and another tail. These cattle are cows and castrated oxen, which represent the women and children of the tribe. The lined cattle are smeared with dung to make them slippery, to make the jumping very challenging