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Himba women dress in goatskin skirts embellished with shells, iron, and copper jewelery. They also put on an elaborate headpiece known as an Erembe. The erembe crown is made of cow or goat leather and is placed on the girl’s head after she’s married for a year or has a child. Women wear a large white shell necklace called the ohumba, which is passed from mother to daughter. Equally popular, particularly among married women, are heavy necklaces made from copper or iron wire.


The Himba women maintain the household, raise the children, and provide for their husbands. They are said to bathe once in their lifetime and that is before marriage. Each morning they rub a paste of butter, fat and red ochre on their skin and hair, giving them a distinctive red hue.


Apart from applying red ochre on their skin, Himba women take a daily smoke bath in order to maintain personal hygiene. They will put some smoldering charcoal into a little bowl of herbs and the wood of the Commiphora tree and wait for the smoke to ascend. Then, they blow over the smoking bowl and start perspiring. For a full body wash, they cover themselves with a blanket so that the smoke gets trapped underneath the fabric.


The Himba are indigenous peoples. One of Southern Africa's last traditionally living pastoral tribes living in northern Namibia. They are a people that live very distant from the "modern-western" world. Although they have contact with the western society, they have managed to maintain their traditional lifestyle.

Ohumba, “The Red People”, Kaokoland, Namibia. August, 2015.

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