Necklaces From Around The World: The Himba Tribe
Necklaces are a universal form of adornment for women and they are continually being redefined by designers who are pushing boundaries with radical ideas and new technology. Whilst the evolution of the Necklace is region-dependent, the symbolism often remains the same. We are going to explore the purpose and symbology behind the Necklace for different tribes and communities from around the world, and we hope that you will join us on our journey.
The Himba people are an indigenous tribe of Namibia and are well known for their ornamental and oversized accessories. The Himba Tribe settled in Namibia at least 6000 years ago and were traditionally hunter gatherers, with Himba men now working as cattle farmers. Naturally, leather has become a core material for local jewellery making. Other materials include ostrich eggshells, cloth, beads, grass and copper wire.
Himba women shield their skin with a red paste called otjize, which works as an insect repellant and provides protection from the sun. It is sometimes applied to their jewellery, giving Himba necklaces a recognisable terracotta hue that is said to represent the essence of life.
Jewellery is used to highlight status within the tribe, however the most important piece of jewellery owned by a Himba woman is the Ohumba Necklace. This is a traditional necklace that is gifted for childbirth as a symbol of fertility. The Ohumba Necklace features a large shell suspended from rows of beads, which hangs between the breasts.