Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa

Hans Silvester, Photographer . Thames & Hudson $45 (167p) ISBN 978-0-500-54358-0

In this stunning collection of photographs, Silvester (Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley ) celebrates the unique art of the Surma and Mursi tribes of the Omo Valley, on the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. These nomadic people have no architecture or crafts with which to express their innate artistic sense. Instead, they use their bodies as canvases, painting their skin with pigments made from powdered volcanic rock and adorning themselves with materials obtained from the world around them—such as flowers, leaves, grasses, shells and animal horns. The adolescents of the tribes are especially adept at this art, and Silvester's superb photographs show many youths who, imbued with an exquisite sense of color and form, have painted their beautiful bodies with colorful dots, stripes and circles, and encased themselves in elaborate arrangements of vegetation and found objects. This art is endlessly inventive, magical and, above all, fun. In his brief text, Sylvester worries that as civilization encroaches on this largely unexplored region, these people will lose their delightful tradition. 160 color photographs. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/24/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-0-500-28805-4
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