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.
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.
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.
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.