Traditional Namibian Women’s Headdressing on Vintage Stamps

Traditiojnal Headressing for Traditional women of Namibia

I was gifted these beautiful old stamps by my Namibian boyfriend quite a few years back. It is a small collection of eight stamps depicting different traditional hairstyles and headdressing by tribes-women living in Namibia (at the time of print it was still South West Africa / SWA).
The images were painted by A. H. Barrett in 1984 and show women from tribes: Kwaluudhi, Ngandjera, Mbukushu, Kwanyama, Herero, Kwambi, Himba and Bushman.

Himba Woman

Many of these women wear very little clothing and cover themselves in a mixture called Otjize which is made of rancid butter, ochre (reddish earth), ash, and resin of the Omuzumba bush (for fragrance). I recently read that this reddish-brown  colouring of the mixture also resonates with the Himba’s ideal of beauty which I found so interesting since so many western beauty ideals are also about bronzing and tanning the skin.

Vintage stamps depicting Namibian Womens headdresses

The women of these tribes are incredibly proud and I imagine that just like so many women I know, they spend hours a day on their appearance, from hair to adornment.

Kwaluudhi Woman

The stamps are all painted from a lower angle giving the women a regal air. They are strong portraits of pride and beauty of another kind.

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