Posted on Leave a comment

The Red-Haired Himba People of Africa

All over Africa, some tribes like the the Red-Haired Himba People of Africa still respect and live according to the traditions of their ancestors. Other examples include the Maasai tribe in Kenya, the Pygmies in Congo or the many tribes that call the Dogon Valley in Mali their home. However, the one that intrigues us all the most is the Himba tribe in north-western Namibia.

The red ochre cream that the Himba People are famous for is made by pounding the ochre stone (Hematite) into small pieces. After that, the fragments are mixed with butter, slightly heated using smoke and applied on the skin.

Here are five interesting facts about the The Red-Haired Himba People of Africa:

1. How the The Red-Haired Himba People of Africa came to be

The first settlements of the Himba people can be traced back to the early 16th century when they crossed the Angolan border and chose Kaokoland (nowadays called Kunene region) as their new homeland. At that time, the word Himba did not exist because they had not yet separated themselves from the Herero tribe.

At the end of the 19th century, Namibia was plagued by a relentless bovine epidemic. Most of the cattle that the Herero depended on perished, and the tribe faced a great crisis. Subsequently, the tribe moved south and started to explore different regions to enhance their chances of survival. Still, some members decided to stay and rather struggle for survival in familiar territories. Then and there, the schism between the two tribes became a reality, and the Himba identity came into being.

2. Red ochre used by The Red-Haired Himba People of Africa

The red ochre cream that the Himba are famous for is made by pounding the ochre stone (Hematite) into small pieces. After that, the fragments are mixed with butter, slightly heated using smoke and applied on the skin. After many conversations with the elders of the tribe, I have concluded that the main reason for the red ochre is to establish a difference between men and women. Moreover, the red layer seems to help against the scorching sun radiation, while keeping the skin clean and moist, and to some extent, it blocks hair growth on the body. On top of the women’s head in the picture, you find the Himba crown: the Erembe. This crown is made of cow or goat leather and is placed on the head when a girl reaches puberty. The red ochre, however, is applied when the girls are old enough to look after themselves hygienically. The tribe’s men do not apply red ochre on their skin.

3. Porridge all the way

The The Red-Haired Himba People of Africa people stick to porridge. Every morning and evening they heat some water, wait until it boils, and put some flour in it, maybe add some oil and food is served. The flour is mostly from maize, but from time to time you might find some mahangu flour as well. Mahangu is another name for pearl millet; it is a prevalent crop in Namibia since it performs well in soils with low fertility. On rare occasions, such as weddings, the Himba do eat meat, but this is more an exception than a rule.

4. Holy fire/Supreme being (Mukuru)

Himbas are animists, and their supreme being is called Mukuru. The way they communicate with their God is through the holy fire. The smoke of the holy fire rises towards heaven, which enables them to communicate with their ancestors who stand in direct contact with the Supreme Being. In every village, you will find the holy fire smouldering while next to it some logs of wood are put on a sacred stone to feed the fire when needed. You are not allowed to cross the holy line if you are an outsider or you have not been invited into the village. The holy line starts from the main entrance of the chief’s hut and goes straight, passing the holy fire, to the entrance of the cattle enclosure.

5. Bathing in smoke

One of the most remarkable Himba traits is that women are not allowed to use water for washing. This implies themselves and also their clothes. Again, according to the elderly, this dates back to the great droughts where water was scarce, and only men were allowed access to water for washing purposes. Apart from applying red ochre on their skin, Himba women do take a daily smoke bath to maintain personal hygiene. They will put some smouldering charcoal into a little bowl of herbs (mostly leaves and little branches of Commiphora trees) and wait for the smoke to ascend. After that, they will bow over the smoking bowl, and due to the heat, they will start perspiring. For a full-body wash, they cover themselves with a blanket so that the smoke gets trapped underneath the fabric.

Follow the link for more:

The Red-Haired Himba People of Africa – Photo from Africa Geographic

Posted on Leave a comment

Frida Kahlo

Nickolas Muray (American, born Hungary, 1892–1965), Frida with Olmeca Figurine, Coyoacán, 1939.
colour carbon print

FRIDA KAHLO, or MAGDALENA CARMEN FRIDA KAHLO CALDERÓN, was born on July 6, 1907 in the Mexico City home owned by her parents since 1904, known today as the Blue House.

We are certain you will have read so much about Frida already, however, we thought that having a post about her on our website is something we can do to honour her memory.

There are web searches about her that you might have already come across and there is a lot to be read about her life story and her work. Here we leave you with a glimpse of some of that content and you can do further research if you would like to know more.

At the time of Frida Kahlo’s death in 1954, a treasure trove of the artist’s highly personal items—including jewelry, clothing, and prosthetics— was locked away.

Fifty years later, these belongings was unsealed, and now they’re on view at the de Young Museum in the traveling and changing exhibition Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.

Offering a perspective on the iconic artist unknown to most, the exhibition reveals the ways in which politics, gender, disability, and national identity informed Kahlo’s life, art, and multifaceted creativity. Thirty-four of Kahlo’s drawings, paintings, and a lithograph are accompanied by her personal belongings—including photographs, letters, jewelry, cosmetics, medical aids, and exceptional garments.

These are augmented by a selection of Pre-Hispanic sculptures drawn from the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

At the age of 18, on September 17, 1925, Frida was in a tragic accident. A streetcar crashed into the bus she was traveling in. The consequences to her person were grave: several bones were fractured and her spinal cord, damaged. While she was immobilized for several months, Frida began to paint.

Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colours. She is celebrated in Mexico for her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and by feminists for her depiction of the female experience and form.

Life experience is a common theme in Kahlo’s approximately 200 paintings, sketches and drawings. Her physical and emotional pain are depicted starkly on canvases, as is her turbulent relationship with her husband, fellow artist Diego Rivera, who she married twice. Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits.

I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” – Frida Kahlo

Posted on Leave a comment


“Clicks” are found in only 24-38 living languages.

Map/photo from Google

Clicks have nonverbal meanings (like indicating disapproval or sympathy) in English and many other languages. But they’re only used as consonants in 24 to 38 living languages.

It is not easy to differentiate between a language and a dialect.

These languages are spoken in Africa.

There is also an extinct Aboriginal language from Australia that uses them.

The largest language family with clicks is the Khoisan “family”.

Photo from Google: A San (Bushman) who gave an exhibition of traditional dress and hunting/foraging behaviour.

The scare quotes are because linguists no longer believe that all of the languages in this family are actually closely related. Click consonants seem to be the only thing that ties them together.

Click consonants are the defining feature of the Khoisan languages, but neighbouring languages like Zulu and Xhosa also incorporate them. Linguists believe clicks spread to these languages through intermarriage and interaction with the neighbouring San peoples.

There is an interesting theory about how this may have happened. In the Zulu and Xhosa cultures, certain people could not say the names of certain other people, or even say things that sound like their names. So, the Khoisan wives knew just what to use: clicks.

As Khoisan wives used their native clicks to censor themselves, eventually the clicks became associated with polite speech. From there, they spread to become an integral part of the language.

“Click languages” may be the oldest languages in the world.

Some scientists believe that the first spoken human language include clicks.

Language is constantly changing, even today.

In 2003, Stanford geneticists analysed mitochondrial DNA from two groups of click speakers: the Ju|’hoansi of the Kalahari desert and the Hadzabe of Tanzania.  Both groups are among the most ancient cultures, with mitochondrial DNA that links them to the dawn of humanity. Despite this, they aren’t closely related. In fact, the Stanford scientists described them as “on the opposite sides of the root.” They’ve had almost no contact with each other almost since humans became humans.

How do you write clicks?

It depends on the language and the type of click in question. In general, Xhosa and other Bantu languages use the Roman letters C, Q, and X, either by themselves or in digraphs. Khoisan languages use exclamation points and other symbols based on a vertical bar called a “pipe” to indicate clicks.

For example, the “!” in the word !Kung indicates a click, as does the vertical bar in “Ju|’hoansi”.

The “click language” in “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is !Kung.

If you’ve ever watched “The Gods Must Be Crazy” and wondered about the mystery language the tribe in the movie speaks, wonder no longer. It’s the Juǀʼhoan dialect of !Kung. The !Kung actor, Nǃxau ǂToma, lived a traditional life before starring in the film.

If you haven’t watched this film I can recommend it as an example and, if you like comedy, you will certainly be entertained and have a good laugh!

Click languages may sound exotic to Western ears. But to native speakers, they are no more unusual than “A is for apple” or “B is for boy.”

South African singer and activist, Miriam Makeba said in one of her shows:

“Everywhere we go, people often ask me, ‘How do you make that noise?’. It used to offend me because it isn’t a noise. It’s my language.”

We will leave you with a link to this video of Makeba singing “The Click Song,”  or  “Qongqothwane.”

You will have to turn the volume all the way up, but it is worth it to hear her break down Xhosa pronunciations.

From You Tube

The sound in the next link has better quality:

From You Tube
Posted on Leave a comment

2021 online San Francisco Tribal and Textile Art Fair, 24-28 February

The Virtual Edition of

The 35th Annual San Francisco Tribal & Textile Art Show

Two unique Virtual shows presented February 24 – 28, 2021


Online Benefit Previews

February 24, 2021 (Wednesday)

35th Tribal & Textile Art Show Virtual Benefit 9 AM to 4 PM PST • Noon to 7 PM EST • 5 PM to Midnight GMT 37th American Indian Art Show Virtual Benefit 10 AM to 5 PM PST • 1 PM to 8 PM EST • 6 PM to 1 AM GMT

Posted on Leave a comment


There is quite a bit that can be said about Guinea-Bissau but here we will focus very briefly on the arts culture side of this lovely place on Earth, more specifically Africa!

Guinea-Bissau is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west.

Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Kaabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were under some rule by the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. In the 19th century, it was colonised as Portuguese Guinea. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country’s name to prevent confusion with Guinea (formerly French Guinea).

Speaking about tribal art of the area, the Bijagós people are famous for their traditions of mask making (such as bull, cow and hippo masks) and sculpture – you will see these come out in carnival season. Statues representing irans (great spirits) are used in connection with agricultural and initiation rituals.

Photo: Young Bijagos Islands men perform ritual dances to attract wives in this matriarchal society. Most other ethnic groups in Guinea-Bissau are patriarchal.
Young Bijagos Islands men perform ritual dances to attract wives in this matriarchal society. Most other ethnic groups in Guinea-Bissau are more patriarchal.

Bijago art or Bidyogo art is African tribal art produced by the natives of the Bijagos Islands of Guinea-Bissau. It includes many artifacts for daily use and ritual practices, following a traditional iconography that is unique to their culture, but shows variations from island to island. Such art pieces are known as Bidyogo art and their unique aesthetics make Bidyogo art distinctive from all other African tribal art with the exception of the nearby Baga people who share some of the iconography (and are considered a “related tribe” by Bacquart).

There are a lot of websites with further information about Guinea-Bissau if you are interested to learn more, such as: