Remember how sorry it was to throw away your favorite jeans, or sew on bow-tie patches or even cut out new holes with a claim to design creativity? The Surma and Mursi tribes of Ethiopia are entirely different but more creative with nature.
Compared to the creative imagination of the people of the Surma and Mursi tribes of Ethiopia, these inventions look pitiful and ridiculous. Lacking any sewing supplies, these ancient African tribes create their unique fashion, and only nature and innate talent help them.
Renowned German photographer Hans Silvester took these rare pictures. He has already published two books with stunning photography: Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa and Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley. The photographer watched the Surma and Mursi tribes’ daily life for a long time to “preserve as much of this truly living art as possible.”
The two tribes that live in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya have a lot in common: they have similar living conditions, similar values, customs, and a love of creativity. For many years, their culture has remained unchanged due to their remote location – they inhabit the desert mountains, which for a long time remained an unexplored region. The photographer fears that soon, these tribes will lose their original culture, and traditions will be forgotten and disappear.
The Surma and Mursi tribes still follow centuries-old traditions, but modern reality is already aggressively intruding into their measured life. Many men carry AK-47 assault rifles to hunt or defend against tribal feuds unleashed in the Sudanese Civil War. Therefore, the police only allow foreigners to travel there when accompanied by armed guards.
Almost all representatives of the two tribes have one distinctive feature – an innate artistic flair and a developed sense of beauty. They embody their understanding of aesthetic values in their appearance: bodies are used as canvases, and natural mineral pigments and volcanic dust serve as paints for them.
All clothing and fashion “accessories” are made from leaves, grass, flowers, shells, animal horns, fruits, etc. An innate sense of shape and color allows them to develop incredible compositions using body art and jewelry donated by nature itself.
They are all extremely inventive and creative. It is like an alternative world of fashion. The “color of the season” really depends on the season, and bright individuality and naturalness are always in trend. Surma and Mursi are not the only tribes with an original understanding of beauty and fashion in African glamor.