The Herero Tribe - Conflict and Costume  

Jim Naughten


Precious 7 had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Naughten about his inspiration behind his discovery of the Herero tribe. 

I used to travel a great deal and more or less stumbled in to Namibia on an old motorbike whilst travelling around Africa. I remain spellbound to this day. Its one of the least populated places on earth and contains two extraordinary deserts. The people who live there are fascinating and extremely photogenic. I chose the Herero as their beautiful and unique clothing represents a ‘meeting’ of two cultures, both Herero and German. The people and their story are extraordinary.
— Jim Naughten


The magnificent traditional costume of the Herero of Namibia, southern Africa, is a stark reminder of the country’s tumultuous past. In the late 19th century, the influence of missionaries and traders in German Southwest Africa led to the adoption by the Herero of the European dress of the day. Over time, the voluminous gowns, completed by a cattle-horn-shaped headdress, came to represent the cultural identity of the Herero women. The men’s ceremonial dress also harks back to colonial times: following the brutal war of 1904, the Herero adapted the uniforms of German soldiers for their own Otruppe ('troops') movement. In Conflict and Costume, acclaimed photographer Jim Naughten captures the colorful Herero attire in a series of spectacular portraits. Set against the Namibian landscape, these dramatic images show the striking costumes and their proud owners to full effect: men in elaborate, home-made paramilitary uniforms, and women in spectacular floor-length frocks with matching horns. Dr Lutz Marten contributes an insightful text that places the dress in its historical context.



More information is available at the Klompching Gallery located at 111 Front Street in Brooklyn, NYC.

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