Natural Fashion

Tribal decoration from Africa - photo by Hans Silvester

Photo by Hans Silvester
(from Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa).

Several years ago, I happened upon a wonderful book by photographer Hans Silvester titled Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa. The photos are gasp-inducing! I ran to my computer and ordered several copies as gifts that Christmas.

The book features breathtaking photographs of the nomadic people of Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley, the Surma and Mursi tribes. Being in the temporary body art business, I thought I knew a thing or two on the subject; but the inventiveness of these gorgeous people blew me away. Using pigments from powdered stone, plants, berries, and river mud, they bring a whole new meaning to what we think of as temporary body art with the magnificent designs they create on their faces, hands, and bodies. In addition, the Omo tribes embellish their body painting with whatever nature provides, including flowers, roots, leaves, seeds, butterfly wings, buffalo horns, boar’s teeth, feathers, fruits, and more to create spectacular body decoration.

Lately there has been a lot of accessorizing in the body art realm, as festival goers gussy up their outfits, jewelry, and body art with floral crowns, glitter, body jewels, and much more. Human beings are always looking for novel ways to adorn their bodies. No one stops wearing jewelry or makeup when they want a new look. They seek to add more! So, if you’re looking for new body adornment ideas, I highly recommend you check out this book to see what Indigenous people do with what nature provides for free.

It’s never been easier to stand out from the crowd. Don’t just paint your body beautiful with henna, jagua, and white henna tattoos or glitter tattoos. Take a page out of the Surma and Mursi tribes’ “lookbook,” and let yourself go wild with so many different ways to enhance your temporary tattoos!

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