On our last day in Turmi, we spent some time visiting a Hamar village. During the day, it’s most common to see women and children in the villages as the men are out in the field tending to their animals while they graze. To make money, Hamar villages will gladly pose for photos but you will have to pay them. Negotiate the fee.
By the time I arrived in to the village, I had more photos of Hamar women than a traveler needs so I was actually focused on trying to capture images of the children. I almost left empty handed if not for the sound of a small tinkling bell. I saw this little baby with the bell dangling from his armband nestled in his mother’s arms. He was simply adorable but his mother was beautiful and I found myself staring at her completely forgetting the baby.
The leather band, with the metal protuberance, hanging around her neck signifies that she is the “first wife”; the Hamar are polygamists. Her hairstyle of bangs and fine dreadlocks, coated in red mud that has been mixed with oil, is typical of the Hamar. She wears an apron style piece of goat skin that is adorned with beads that come from Kenya and that she most likely traded for. Earrings, necklaces, armbands and often leg bands complete the Hamar look. What you can’t see in the photo are the scars on her back. Scarification is deliberate for the Hamar and they consider a mark of beauty. After I captured her image, I set aside all the others I had taken – they just can’t compare.