bungee jumping -- a tradition?

Modern bungee jumping as a “sport” in the western world uses an elastic cord. It seems to me that before the development of elastic cord ( a plastic, right?) jumping without this elasticity would produce serious damage to the body. And yet, I have read somewhere that this is a traditional tribal activity.

What’s the straight dope?

I know what you’re referring to; I saw it on Discovery (or somewhere) several years ago. Maybe on ‘Taboo’?

I can’t remember if it’s African or Pacific, but they build a wooden tower and then the rite of passage is for the young man to jump off with a tether of vines tied to his ankles.

IIRC, it’s only about 20 feet high. Only.
Here we are; and I was wrong about the scale:

Vines are used, and if you watch the videosthese are naturally curly and pliable so they cushion the stop sort of gradually.
But the best jumpers try to touch the ground so it’s still spectacularly dangerous-looking.

Hairier than Verzasca, which I have done and which is about 600+ feet higher…

The Insane Tribal Bungee Jumpers of Vanuatu