What African Tribe Apply Red Clay To Their Hair?

Red clay is a type of soil that is usually made up of different metallic compounds, the main one being iron. The iron in the soil is responsible for its red color. Red clay has different contexts where it can be used and has different purposes, one of them is cleaning. It can be found in places where there are depressions, or simply holes, or in places where there is mud water or stagnant water. 

The Himba tribe is a tribe that is known for applying red clay to their hair.

This tribe is mainly located in the Northern parts of Namibia, Africa, and has many fascinating facts that one would love to know more about and explore their cultures. They normally speak a language that is commonly known as the Otjihimba language which is one of the languages spoken by tribes that are under the Herero lineage, who are a Bantu group.

The Himba mainly migrated from two main countries namely Namibia and Botswana. This happened in the middle of the 16th century whereby several attacks happened due to conflicts with the neighboring communities. The Himba herd and keep various kinds of animals including sheep, goats, and other types of cattle which is a sign of wealth or a measure of wealth. 

Why Do The Himba People Apply Red Clay To Their Hair?

Some reasons drive the Himba people to apply the red clay to their hair and their bodies. They believe that this paste of clay is useful and it plays a vital role in their daily lives. To the Himba, the red clay is a general symbol of beauty and attractiveness to them. The women usually take good care of their hair to a point of making dreadlocks and then applying the red clay, or simply the red ochre to their well-kempt dreadlocks and also their bodies. This has been a practice that has been conducted by the Himba for a very long time and has been passed on from one generation to another, being applied to the skin and the hair. 

The Himba people apply the red clay to their hair and skin because it protects their skin from extreme rays of sunlight. Besides this, the red clay is believed to remove any dirt on the skin meaning they do not take a water bath due to scarcity of water it is also used to repel any insects and also keeps their hair beautiful especially the women’s hair.

A woman’s hair is very important to her as it is a symbol of how many children she can bear. The longer the hair the more she is considered fertile as the days go on. This, therefore, explains the importance of the women having long hair that is well-kempt with the red clay. 

Why Are The Himba People Red?

The Himba tribe is a tribe that well respects their culture of applying the red clay to their bodies. Speculations give quite a good number of reasons why they apply this to their hair and skin. However, this red clay is only applied to women and not the men among the Himba tribe in Namibia.

The Himba people are red because they apply a certain paste made of clay on their hair and their skins. This red clay paste plays a very important role in various ways that the Himba people believe are effective enough. It protects against various allergens, protects ultraviolet rays that may affect the skin negatively, and it also represents the fact that they are united as one in the community of the Himba people. Since water is a scarce resource in the areas where the Himba community people live, they do not take a bath with water but usually take a smoke bath almost every morning and then apply onto themselves the red clay.

The Himba live in houses that are made of dung and mud and are constructed close to each other in a circle where the members live together. They also have and herd livestock because the livestock is a measure of how much wealth one has just as it is among the Maasai community in Kenya and Tanzania.

What Do The Himba People Consider Beautiful?

The Himba people of Namibia are not that densely populated. There are approximately 51,000 Himba people in Namibia. Research shows that over the past few years the population of the Himba in the Northern parts of Namibia is rapidly declining due to the effects of modernization. Many of the Himba people are adopting modern ways of life and some deviating from their cultures to go and live in more complex places. They live a nomadic lifestyle and practice livestock keeping, mainly rearing cattle and goats. They also believe in one supreme being called Mukuru and also worship their ancestors. These ancestors act as mediators between the people and their god and act as messengers of god to the people. 

What the Himba people consider beautiful is their red skin color that is generated by applying the red clay to the skin. It is only applied by the women hence the red coloring on their skin. This red skin makes them eccentric and easy to differentiate from any other communities. 

Do The Himba People Bathe?

The Himba live in places that are faced with harsh climatic conditions characterized by the desert climate which causes a lack of rainfall. This therefore clearly means that it is under very rare circumstances that there is water. These people however still survive despite the unending challenge of water that they face.

The Himba people do not take with water due to its scarcity. Instead, they, especially the women, take a bath using smoke that usually contains a perfume in it and then apply the red clay on their skin. They also use the red clay to clean themselves up because they believe that once you have applied it to your skin it helps remove any dirt on the body. These acts are enough to make and keep them clean and also maintain their standards of hygiene without getting infected by any diseases that may be brought by improper hygiene.

The Himba still exist but their population is slowly declining from day to day due to the influence of modern science and technology. Their survival skills make them who they are and this explains why they are still in existence.

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