They have no mirrors, no cosmetics counter or even a place to shop for the latest fashions. But the African Surma and Mursi tribes have no trouble using what Mother Nature has to offer when dressing up in imaginative and colorful tribal couture. Unfortunately the origins of this age old tradition have been lost over the years - the Surma and Mursi spend much of their time involved in tribal and guerilla warfare because their homeland is a hotbed to the arms and ivory trades.
Photographer Hans Silvester had the priviledge of photographing these people and brings us a glimpse of their lives and their unique tribal fashions in his book Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa .
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this stunning collection of photographs, Silvester (Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley) celebrates the unique art of the Surma and Mursi tribes of the Omo Valley, on the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. These nomadic people have no architecture or crafts with which to express their innate artistic sense. Instead, they use their bodies as canvases, painting their skin with pigments made from powdered volcanic rock and adorning themselves with materials obtained from the world around them—such as flowers, leaves, grasses, shells and animal horns. The adolescents of the tribes are especially adept at this art, and Silvester's superb photographs show many youths who, imbued with an exquisite sense of color and form, have painted their beautiful bodies with colorful dots, stripes and circles, and encased themselves in elaborate arrangements of vegetation and found objects. This art is endlessly inventive, magical and, above all, fun. In his brief text, Sylvester worries that as civilization encroaches on this largely unexplored region, these people will lose their delightful tradition. 160 color photographs.