Conflict and Costume: The Herero Tribe of Namibia
Introduction by Lutz Marten
The magnificent costume of the Herero of Namibia, southern Africa, is a stark reminder of the country’s tumultuous past. In the late 19th century, the influence of missionaries and traders in German Southwest Africa led the Herero to adopt European dress of the day. Over time, the voluminous gowns, completed by a cattle-horn-shaped headdress, came to represent the cultural identity of the Herero women. The men’s ceremonial dress also references colonial times: following the brutal war of 1904, the Herero adapted the uniforms of German soldiers for their own Otruppe (‘troops’) movement. In Conflict and Costume, the acclaimed photographer Jim Naughten captures the colourful Herero attire in a series of spectacular portraits. Set against the Namibian landscape, these dramatic images show the striking costumes and their proud owners to full effect: men in elaborate, home-made paramilitary uniforms, and women in floor-length frocks with matching horns.