The Himba wear little clothing and the women are famous for covering themselves in Otjize, which is a mixture of naturally perfumed butter fat and ochre, possibly to protect themselves from the sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge which the guide tells us symbolizes the earth’s rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life. This is also consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty.
The Himba women are striking. They wear beaded anklets and necklaces, braid each others hair and cover it in the ochre mixture. Grooming is an important part of their culture. When we visited they invited Anna, my gorgeous blonde friend that was visiting from Europe, to enter the hut to be ochre’d and dressed up in their way. What an experience it was for her!