Saturday, November 17, 2007

pretty as a picture, 
the dresses of Herero women 

Very beautiful and completely different to what we are used to.
It seems that the Hereros migrated from the east African lakes to Namibia about 300 years ago where they settled in Kaokoland in the Northern Namibia. Then  they moved further inland into Namibia as far south as Okahandja.


What I find intriguing about the Herero people is the fashion of these polite mannered women. The basic Victorian style of their dresses was picked up from the early missionaries, but the style of their hats are unique and a very important facet of their attire. A Herero woman is prim on her clothes and manners. She does not talk loud or use vulgar language and she moves flowingly without running or sudden movements.

The Herero people are on average tall, the men as well as the woman. My friend Elizabeth agreed to pose for a few photos. These are not her very best clothes but it is enough for this blog.

The sleeves and backs of the dresses are as decorative as the front. By the way Elizabeth is near to 60 years old. Take a look at her face again girls - no expensive creams and surgeries. (no gray hair either - I would have liked that for myself..sigh)..  

Only a small portion of the skirt is visible, but it is enough to see the pleats which are ironed into shape - each one from top to the bottom.

The top layers of the many petticoats. Add the heavy long dress and a hot climate. I do not know how they handle it ?! The first thing our women would object to is the fact that so many layers of material would make them look fatter than they really are. Obviously these women (and their men) have other priorities in life.

Take a close look at the fine pleats on the skirt. Easier to see on the photo below.
These women can iron! Not to mention the patience that goes with all that ironing.


My grand daughter loves Elizabeth. One day when I was impatient with the child Elizabeth said. "Do not be impatient with her. One day when you are old she will return the patience and love you give now." I think our culture has given up on that too ??

Everything changes - nature, cultures, languages - and it seems that the Herero dresses are fading out amongst the younger generation of women. These dresses are very expensive compared to modern clothes and it is not designed for a busy life in cramped office conditions. It would be a pity not to see Herero women in their beautiful attire walking slowly and moving gracefully.

7 comments:

Julie said...

Oh, what an absolutely beautiful post! Modern history, as it fades into the sunset...sadly. These women sound as amazing, and complex, as their dresses are!
Thanks for featuring them!
Julie

Linda S. said...

You have my distinct envy. What a rare treasure it is to have access to these wonderful ladies. Thank you for the post.

footiam said...

The clothes would wow the world if Nicole Kidman were to wear them. Beautiful clothes! And thanks for visiting my PA blog.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

What a beautiful woman. Your granddaughter is adorable. It was very interesting for me to read about women of such a different culture from ours. I will return to read more!

Jenn said...

Those dresses are beautiful. What a fantastic tradition. All those pleats!

thewren said...

I remember as a child growing up in Botswana seeing Herero women and I would always catch myself staring because of how beautiful they looked. I love their colours, fabric and richness of the culture. I have just written a post in my blog (will be up tomorrow, wed) and I hope you do not mind, but have linked to you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this engaging, and very important blog! You've captured a culture that will certainly not be around forever. And, I love your tone. It matches the beauty of Herero women. In the world, there are less than a quarter million left after the genocide led by the Germans. Why do we never read, or hear about that?