Himba Women – Kaokoland, Namibia – Philippe Destine
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In the Himba society, Women of childbearing potential get rapidly married. It is not rare that at the age of 20, they are already mothers of several children. The polygamy exists in the Himba society but it is not the rule. During the 1st year, the baby stays in permanent contact with his mother who breast-feeds him and makes him sleep on her knees.
Himba women cover their body with a red powder: the Otjize. The ochre is a ferric rock consisted of pure clay, colored by a pigment of mineral origin, here an iron hydroxide: the hematite. This rock is reduced to powder and added to fat. There are not many places in Kaokoland where to find this rock to the natural state. It comes especially from Angola. Himbas buy it mostly in Opuwo, the capital of the Himba territory. When Otjize has just been applied, the body is much more brilliant, as we see on the photography number 1 (woman on the right).
Himbas villages consist of only few families, because the surrounding vegetation cannot support a too important herd. The Himba hut (Ozondjuwo) has a simple function of shelter and is thus built rather quickly. It is generally round and constituted by a skeleton in branches of mopane on which is put down a mixture of cow dung and clay. Once dry it insures the watertightness. However, it must be rather regularly restored.
Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Nikon 200/400 VRII used at 100mm
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
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