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Hair styling of a Himba woman using otjize

Otjize is a mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment used by the Himba people of Namibia to protect themselves from the harsh desert climate. The paste is often perfumed with the aromatic resin of Commiphora multijuga (omuzumba). The mixture lends the skin a deep orange or reddish tinge. This symbolises earth's rich red color, and blood, the essence of life, and is the Himba ideal of beauty.[citation needed] The Himba use otjize in their hair as well, which is long and plaited into intricate designs.[1] Himba women start designing their hair from puberty using the red clay as well as adding on the hair of goats for stylist purposes. [2]

Otjize is also used for hygienic purposes due to water scarcity. Over time, otjize flakes off, removing dirt and dead skin. Wood ash is used to wash the hair.


  1. ^ The Himba: Namibia's iconic red women
  2. ^ CNN, Errol Barnett, CNN and Tim Hume, for (2012-05-11). "The Himba: Namibia's iconic red women". CNN Digital. Retrieved 2020-11-17.

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