Hans Silvester’s NATURAL FASHION: TRIBAL DECORATION FROM AFRICA is a powerful presentation of East African tribal decoration routines and body painting.
The Omo tribes use nature as accessories, whether it be leaves, flowers or butterfly wings: their fashion choices and way of life is documented with full-page color photos and accompanying historical insights.
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.)
The poignant beauty of this primitive (but VERY detailed and artistic)body painting is a way of life, and the variety of plants and flowers these people incorporate into their elaborate body art is exquisite.
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This is quite good book about an exhibition that just finished, if you like small ethnoraphic objects like african combs, I recommend reading this book. You can read it online at books.google.com, or if you like me, enjoy hardcover books, you can buy the book on Amazon: african art world bank
This first catalogue featuring pieces from the World Bank’s permanent art collection focuses on African traditional artwork–textiles, sculptures, pottery, and paintings as well as functional objects–from the Maghreb to Mali and from the former Zaire to Zambia. Three essays accompanying the photographs provide threads on how to interpret historical, social, and religious meaning in these works of art.