But is it Art?

Nice hat!


“The key to good millinery is spontaneity.” I liked that phrase, found in a Telegraph review of this book: Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa, by Hans Silvester (Thames & Hudson).


The book documents two African tribes in the Omo Valley (at the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan): the Surma and Mursi. As far as I could tell from the coverage—I have not read the book—these people adorn themselves with fantastically inventive headdresses, neckpieces and less classifiable ornamentation purely for the beauty of it. And wow is it ever beautiful, judging by the pictures I have seen. The materials include leaves, stems, flowers, roots, feathers, snail shells, butterfly wings, boar’s teeth, seed pods, and various pigments made from organic sources.


There were likely very specific reasons for all this, but the origins have been lost over the years. One thing is certain: this is also an area that increasingly threatened by warfare, climate change, and international tourism.

Posted by on March 12, 2008 at 10:00 am, in the category But is it Art?.
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3 responses to “Nice hat!”

  1. Commonweeder says:

    Elizabeth, I love the photographs! It never ceases to amaze me at the human desire for beauty and the strength of the creative spirit.

  2. susan harris says:

    Wow. I can’t stop looking at them.

  3. Stuart says:

    That is seriously the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Great share Elizabeth. I can only echo Susan’s thoughts.