The world is modernising and so is our style of dress. However, Namibian women have kept their cultural dress code alive by embracing traditional attire. Cultural designs are diverse and representative of our various cultural heritages. Let’s take a look at some traditional dressing styles and how they are worn by Namibian women.
The traditional material for the Aawambo dress has a distinct pink-and-black striped pattern, customarily worn with matching head wraps. These materials vary in designs of the pattern and are also popularly worn as skirts. The Aawambo dresses are traditionally worn with necklaces called Onyoka, made from mussel shell beads.
The ankle length Victorian style Damara dresses are usually worn in traditional colours of green, white and blue. The head wrap, called !Haib, is an essential part of the Damara dress. A Facebook Page called Damara Dresses displays different styles of this traditional attire. The older generation prefers to keep the traditional designs, while the younger dressmakers are experimenting with modern designs.
Known as Ohorokova, Ovaherero dress is worn over several petticoats. They have long sleeves and a shawl across the shoulders. The headdress, called Otjikaiva, is a symbol that represents cow horns and it’s secured with a decorative pin. Dressmakers are creative in their designs of the Ovaherero dress in terms of the different fabrics and prints.
Ovahimba people have preserved their traditional animal skin clothes and leather jewellery combined with shells. Adult women wear beaded anklets. Various headdresses symbolise a specific position within the community and stage in life. Although topless, the women wear skirts or loincloths made of animal skin.
The vaKavango are popularly known for their reed skirts that rattle as they dance and sing to musical drums on special occasions, while they accessorise with necklaces made from seeds. Skirts are made from animal hides as they are enthusiastic about using natural materials for their attire.
The San people’s dress code consists of animal hide around the waist. They adorn themselves with headbands made of beads, worn particularly on special occasions.
Sources: www.travelnewsnamibia.com, www.our-africa.org, www.gondwana-collection.com
Beauty Ndapanda is a lifestyle blogger/writer. Her articles include wellness and beauty tips to help readers look and feel their best, while her topics on introspection examine thoughts and emotional processes for navigating through life’s ups and downs. – www.beautyndapanda.com