"The Himba" –
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I tend to agree and would also add that beauty is also influenced by our various cultures and environments. The "Cultural Beauty" portion of this blog will not only celebrate but highlight beauty practices from tribes and cultures from across the globe. While reading, might be surprised which beauty rituals overlap or are similar to yours! First up? The Himba Tribe.
The Himba are a semi-nomadic (traveling) tribe whose long history remains in farming and cattle herding across Namiba.
Here, we see a beautiful Himba woman wearing her hair in the common style of her culture. The tribe's traditional locs, which are also familiar to Caribbean cultures, are a formed by combining goat butters / fat and ground red rock (for the distinctive color). While many anthropologists who study the culture propose that the colored butter / clay is rubbed on the hair, skin, and clothes for its protective properties against the sun or its ability to repel insects … the Himba people themselves say its application is mainly one of beauty. As physical adornment and beauty is a huge aspect of tribal culture, a large effort is made to present well and according to traditional standards of beauty. Himba women create their locs with the above mentioned clay, in addition to woven hay, goat hair, and at times hair extensions. This process can take hours.
Two singular plats worn down the front of a child’s face are braided to indicate a tribal lineage of both mother and father. As the child grows, if she is female, she will begin the colorful locing process with the hair styled down around her face to signify she is in puberty and not available for marriage consideration. Hair styles and work to the side indicate a woman has entered marrying age. Women who have already married may also chose to add a head adornment with jewels, often indicating the number of children she has had. With this tribe, we see how the beauty of hair and its corresponding decorations relates to social standing and marriage rites.
Additional images - photo credit: Erica Lafforgue