10 December 2012

Namibia's "Hereros" | African Adaptation of Victorian fashion

"Hereros" is a portrait series by Jim Naughten of Herero people dressed in Victorian era dresses and paramilitary costumes. The Herero are not a homogenous people. The majority live in central Namibia and were heavily influenced by European culture as depicted in these photographs. Other Herero counterparts such as the Himba, Kuvale, and Tjimba are known to wear traditional leather garments. During the European scramble to colonize Africa, Rhenish missionaries attempted to convert the Herero people with European fashion. Over time, it became a part of Herero tradition, and regional variations emerged such as the addition of cow horns to headdresses. 
In 1892, the first German colonists arrived in Southern Africa where the indigenous Herero and Nama people resided. By 1903, the Germans had made plans to place the Herero people in reservations, to enable the scramble for more land. In 1904, the Herero and Nama people began to fight the German forces. Over a period of four years, the Herero population decreased from 80,000 to 15,000. After killing a German soldier, it was customary for a Herero warrior to remove the soldier's uniform and wear it as a symbol of superiority in battle. Today, this tradition is continued to honour Herero ancestors during funerals, ceremonies and festivals.

[It is noted that the portraits are not intended to serve as a conventional documentary of Herero culture. The portraits do not capture the subject in a snapshot of everyday life nor with objects typical of routine or social station. The subjects were positioned and dressed in their garments to reflect the colour and vibrancy of this culture.]

For more on Jim Naughten or "Hereros", visit www.jimnaughten.com

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