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The Himba are indigenous peoples. One of Southern Africa's last traditionally living pastoral tribes living in northern Namibia.

 

From the time a Himba girl is born, her hairstyle will identify her place in society, indicating age, clan and marital status of a woman. The hair is first lengthened with straw then woven together with hair extensions to create dreadlocks, which are then covered in otjize and finished with goat hair, added to give the distinctive pom-pom look.

 

A young girl who hasn’t reached puberty yet will display two braids at the front of her head, if a girl is a twin, she will wear only one single braid, indicating she is only one-half of a pair of twins.At puberty, the girl will wear braids up front covering her face, letting males know that she isn’t ready to marry. When a young woman is ready to marry, the same locks will be braided toward the back of the head, allowing potential suitors to see her face. When a woman has been married for a year or has had a child, she will wear the erembe headdress on top of her head.

 

Men, on the other hand, have very simple coifs. Single men wear an ondatu plait on the back of their head, married men cover their hair with turbans for the rest of their lives, only shaving their hair and removing their turbans during funerals.

 

The smallest children tend to have shaved heads, although some might have special haircuts to indicate their clan. Newborn babies are adorned with bead necklaces, bangles made of beaten copper — shells are added when the children are a little older.

Two Braids, “The Red People”, Kaokoland, Namibia. August, 2015.

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