I’m so taken with Jim Naughten’s photography and, if I could, I would buy every one of them, NOW.  He is hotter than the Namibian desert in which the subjects of this series were photographed.  Instead of quippy writing on the subject today, I’m including verbatim explanation from his website so we can all learn together.  Enjoy!

Website: www.jimnaughten.com

Each image, a portrait of Herero tribe members of Namibia, 
reveals a material culture that harkens the region’s tumultuous 
past: residents wear Victorian era dresses and paramilitary 
costume as a direct result and documentation of its early 20th 
century German colonization.

Namibia’s borders encompass the world’s oldest desert. Bleak 
lunar landscapes, diamond mines, German ghost towns, rolling 
sea fogs, nomadic tribes and a hostile coastline littered with 
shipwrecks and whale skeletons comprise the region’s striking 
and haunting natural features. Namibia’s geography has 
witnessed a turbulent and little documented history of human 
settlement, upheaval and war within a particularly brutal 
period of European colonization. 

In the European scramble to colonise Africa, Kaiser Wilhelm’s 
Germany claimed one of the least populated and most hostile 
environments on the planet. It became Deutsche Sudewest- 
afrika. Though sparsely populated, it was already home to the 
San, Nama and Herero people. Rhenish missionaries set about 
converting and clothing them after European fashion. Over 
time, this became a Herero tradition, and continuing to dress 
in this manner was a great source of pride to the wearer. 
Gradually, regional variations in the silhouette emerged; for 
example, the addition of ‘cow horns’ to headdresses reflects 
the great importance with which they regard their cattle. 

War broke out between German colonizers and the local tribes 
in 1904. The Herero tribe was devastated, having lost almost 
eighty percent of its population. Garments became an important 
expression of identity during these fragile times. Upon killing 
a German soldier, a Herero warrior would remove the uniform 
and adopt it to his personal dress as a symbol of his prowess in 
battle. Paradoxically, as with the Victorian dresses, the wearing 
of German uniforms became a tradition that is continued to 
this day by Namibian men who honour their warrior ancestors 
during ceremonies, festivals and funerals. 

These portraits are not intended to serve as a conventional 
documentary of Herero culture. They do not capture the subject 
in a snapshot of everyday life nor with objects typical of routine 
or social station. Subjects are removed from their home and 
intentionally suspended in a confrontational posture. As such, 
their identity as Herero tribe members is reified in their garments 
and their gaze, a colour and vibrancy brought into acute focus 
by the contrasting setting. 

By composing these portraits against the Namibian landscape — 
one of unforgiving intensity but also of silent witness — there is 
an enlivening that takes place in an otherwise frozen moment. 
The still space, the direct gaze, the re-appropriated cloth combine 
to curate a stillness that allows the past to speak.jim-naughten-namibia-book-20 SM_BLOG_COSTUME_35521233 SM_BLOG_COSTUME_2 art_850 Herero women tribe in costumes marching, Namibia jnhereros17 jnhereros131 jnhereros15 jnhereros14 jnhereros03 jnherero24 Herero-cavalrymen Herero-cavalryman