Himba Woman Perfuming Herself with Smoldering Herbs {Fragrant Images}


In Namibia, Himba women clean themselves like the Romans did, with oil and by scraping their skins. They permanently wear a mixture of ash, ochre earth and oil. The ochre powder itself is scented, according to Heat, Dust, Dreams: an exploration of people and environment in Namibia. Here the woman is perfuming herself by burning aromatic herbs and smoking herself with a container...



In this other picture, we see a young Himba woman prepare a deodorant mix with herbs and resins. 

The ochre mixture is perfumed with the gum of Commiphora multijuga (Hiern) K.Schum; its resin and powdered bark are used in general for scented purposes, while its twigs become fragrant toothbrushes [source].  The second ingredient is the bark of Commiphora virgata. 

In People's Plants: a guide to useful plants of South Africa, scented neck powder is mentioned, made of the powdered root and flowers of Thamnosma africana. 

Cow's butter fat is used to carry fragrant materials for these herders. They also like to exchange perfume plants when socializing. 

From the National Geographic caption:

"The Himba women of northern Namibia perform daily rituals in which they anoint themselves with a mixture of ochre, oil, and ash to protect themselves from the harsh desert climate. They never take a shower, but rather burn aromatic herbs in a pot each morning with which they smoke themselves as if applying perfume."

Photos: 1/ ©Dominique Brand 2/ ©Hans Hillewaert 

Via National Geographic; Wikipedia

Related Posts

Leave a Comment