Women from different cultures wondering why they dress like they do
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Interestingly, the Himba people are considered to be the last (semi) nomadic people of Namibia. The Himba women are easily recognized thanks to their unique hairstyles and otjize, or red ochre cream. The red paste is made by mixing together butter, fat and slightly heated smoke. Although the paste helps protect the women against the scorching sun, the tradition is done for aesthetic reasons.
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Dassanech Tribe, Ethiopia
There are approximately 20,000 members in this tribe! The Dassanech survive in their semi-arid environment by cultivating crops when the rains arrive and when the Omo river floods. Unfortunately, over the years, the severe and sustained droughts have resulted in the death of over 100 Dassanech members.
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Sherpa Tribe, Tibet
Although many Everest-enthusiast know ‘Sherpas’ as mountaineers carrying the heaviest loads, there is much more to this unique ethnic tribe. Sherpas are a Nepalese ethnic group numbering around 150,000. Due to their dangerous location in the mountains of Nepal, they have become renowned for their climbing skills and superior strength and endurance at high altitudes.
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By AP images
Nenets Tribe, Siberia
The Nenets people of the Siberian Arctic are the guardians of a style of reindeer herding that is the last of its kind. This group, of about 10,000 nomads, move 300,000 reindeer on a 1,100 km migration around an area one-and-a-half times the size of France, in temperatures below freezing. Over the years, the Nenets have slowly adapted to the increasing contact with the outside world.
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By AP images
Huaorani Tribe, Ecuador
Despite only having 4,000 members of the in the tribe, the Huaorani have their own language. Reports show that their linguistic isolate is unlike any other language. Unfortunately, they are constantly threatened by oil exploration and illegal logging practices.
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by indigenousunites
Tsaatan Tribe, Mongolia
The Tsaatans are one of the last groups of nomadic reindeer herders in the world! They have survived thousands of years, depending entirely on their reindeer. Some Tsaatans even say that if their reindeer disappear, so will their culture. Unlike other reindeer-dependent tribes, the Tsaatans do not use their animals for meat.
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By Guardian
The Kayan women, also known as “giraffe women”, traditionally wear brass coils around their neck in order to give the impression that their necks are longer. The Kayan women wear these brass rings from childhood, starting at four or five, and add more rings each year. Surprisingly, the coils can reach a weight of 25 pounds, which pushes down on the woman’s collarbone and compresses her rib cage. These rings, which are worn even while the women are sleeping, show a sign of beauty and wealth.
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The Marquesas Islands group is one of the most remote in the world! Historically, there was no written language in the region so tattoos, or tatu, was used to show identity, status, and genealogy. Interestingly, tattoos are such a big part of the Polynesian way of life that women are said not to want to marry un-tattooed men. Men that are not inked portray a lack of wealth and lack of physical strength.
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In this remote Ethiopian tribe, members undergo extremely painful rituals and pride themselves on the scars they carry. One unique ritual requires the female members of the tribes to have distinctive clay discs inserted into holes in their bottoms lips. In order to insert the disc, their bottom two teeth must be removed. Interestingly, this tradition is not only a sign of beauty, but the larger the plate, the more cows the girl’s father can demand in dowry when his daughter marries.
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Although Bhutan has opened its doors to tourism, it’s still a remotely isolated country. The beautiful region is landlocked between Tibet and India and stands as the second least populous nation. In order to control outside influence in the country, entrance into Bhutan costs a total of $250. But, the expensive entrance costs isn’t the only reason tourists don’t travel to an incredible country. Bhutan is continuously ranked as one of the most dangerous airports in the world, with only 8 pilots qualified to land on its airstrip.
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By Jimmy Nelson
The Mucawana people are nomadic agriculturists who live in a remote part of southern Angola, completely isolated from the rest of the country due to deserts and mountains. Interestingly, due to this isolation, this tribe has been able to upkeep their ethnic individuality and culture, still living and dressing in strictly traditional ways.
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By My Love 4 Africa
The Mursi, or Mun as they refer to themselves, are an ethnic group that are located in one of the most isolated regions of Ethiopia. The men in this unique tribe are known to be mighty warriors. In order to pass manhood, boys must prove that they are masters at using fighting sticks. Then, when a man is ready to get married, he must fight other men who may be interested in the same woman.
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By OMOadvisor
The traditional greeting for this iwi (tribal group) is known as the Hongi, or two people briefly pressing noses and foreheads together at the same time. During the Hongi, a ha (or breath of life) is exchanged between the two people. The Ha resembles both parties’ souls intermingling together.
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The Huli Tribe are known for their unique wigs and interesting death rituals. If a Huli woman becomes a widow, she transforms herself into a ghost-like figure, covering her whole body with white and grey clay and placing a net over her figure. This is done in order to hide from her husband’s spirit, out of the belief that if she is un-recognizable to her husband’s souls she will be able to find another man to remarry. Also, the widowed woman wears a necklace made of seeds. Each week she removes a seed until she is left with an empty necklace. This symbolizes the end of her period of mourning.
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By Jimmy Nelson.official
This ancient tribe was isolated from the outside world for over 55,000 years – up until now. Since 1998, the tribe started making increasing contact with the world outside their forest, the most dangerous being tourists. Currently, unfortunately, there are only about 270 Jarawa people remaining. On a daily basis, they are threatened by the Andaman Trunk Road, which runs directly through the Jarawa territory.
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By mshannahkang
In the back country of Pakistan you can find a unique ancient tribe that is made up of members who have blonde hair and blue eyes. The Kalasha people have up kept their ancient cultures and tribal rites for over 2,000 years. The ethnic group are protected by a fierce tribal leader who enforces strict policies and keeps a watchful eye over his tribe. Unfortunately, there are only about 3,000 tribal members left.
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By chitralpk
Miao people are easily recognized thanks to their beautiful shiny silver alloy accessories, such as hats, vests, hairpins, beads, and plaits. Maio people have unique marriage customs. When couples are ready to start the process of marriage, the man and woman exchange rice cakes in order to show their affection. Another way to show love? Mandarin ducks.
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By Ashersvidensky
Hmong Hill Tribe, Vietnam
Although the Hmong culture is patrilineal – allowing the husband’s family to make major decisions – the Hmong women have traditionally carried a large amount of responsibility in the family. From a young age, girls learn all the necessary household skills from their female elders. But, besides the work around the house, women are responsible for planting and harvesting the fields.
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By Reuters
Huli Tribe, Papua New Guinea
The Huli Tribe is better known as the Huli Wigmen due to their famous tradition of making ornamented wigs from their own hair. Interestingly, the males in the tribes are required to grow their hair out until it is long enough to be cut away and stitched together into a traditional wig. The wig is fashioned with various ornaments such as parrot feathers, dyes made from charcoal, red clay and pig fat.
By Jimmy Nelson
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Yakutsk, Eastern Siberia
This freezing region is known as the second coldest city in the world! During the winter, average “highs” are around -40C and “lows” can reach a whopping -50C. Unsurprisingly, locals that decide to face the harsh climates are forced to walk around in fur-clad outfits.
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By rfe.ri
Chukchi, Siberia
The Arctic Chukchi live on the peninsula of the Chukotka and face extremely freezing climates. Interestingly, due to these harsh climates and difficulty of life, hospitality and generosity are highly prized among the tribe. There are around 15,000 Chukchi!
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By benjaminthapa
Loba Tribe, Nepal
The Upper Mustang is populated by the Loba tribe, ethnic Tibetans who still believe the world is flat. The Loba’s speak a Tibetan-Burman language and have no written language. They have traditionally been distinguished from other groups by the fact that the Loba’s don’t wear shoes.
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By bestnepalfaces
Rabari Tribe, India
The Rabari are an indigenous tribal caste of nomadic cattle and camel herders that live throughout northwest India. Interestingly, the Rabari women have a significant role in the tribe, responsible for looking after the cattle, bringing potable water and collecting fuel for cooking.
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by inali_campbell
Samburu People, Kenya
A sub-tribe of the Maasai, the Samburu people, are semi-nomadic pastoralists. This tribe stands out among the desert landscape thanks to their colorfully traditional Shukka, or cloth that they wrap around their bodies, and beautiful beaded necklaces. Interestingly, they are forced to relocate every 5 to 6 weeks in order to ensure their cattle can feed themselves.
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By Sandbachspics
Ainu People, Japan
Although there are unofficially 200,000 Ainu, only 25,000 of them acknowledge their ancestry. Yes, many Japanese themselves are unaware of the existence of their own country’s indigenous people. Why? Well, for hundreds of years, the Ainu have been ignored, discriminated against, or forced to assimilate with mainstream Japanese culture. The government only officially recognized the Ainu as Japan’s indigenous people in 2008!
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By green_peace_office
Hamar, Ethiopia
The Hamar are hunter-gatherers located in the Great Rift Valley of Africa. This tribe is famously known for their unique custom of “bull jumping”, which ultimately initiates a boy into manhood. According to reports, 46,532 people in the ethnic group.
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By mzle_le
Ladakhi Tribe, India
Just like their region, the Ladakhis are strong and beautiful people. Although they are located in India, their features look more like those of Tibet and Central Asia. Also, due to the altitude of the place, their skin tends to get rough patches on their cheeks and hands.
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By Jimmy Nelson
Himba Tribe, Namibia
Due to their regions harsh climatic conditions and lack of potable water, Himba people are unable to wash their bodies with water. But, the tribe found a way to combat this issue. The Himba women apply red ochre to their skin and partake in daily smoke baths in order to maintain their personal hygiene.
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By mescosenior
Surma Tribe, Ethiopia
Surma people live in an ultra-remote part of southwestern Ethiopia and South Sudan, and are known for their complex agricultural and pastoral culture. Although they were known to westerners for decades, their first contact with the outside world was in the 1980’s with a group of Russian doctors.
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By alberto_dellacqua66
El Molo, Kenya
The centuries-old El Molo ethnic group is the smallest tribe in Kenya, and unfortunately, face extinction from every direction. Due to constant threats, the El Molo people have completely isolated themselves, fleeing to the remote shoreline of Lake Turkana. Interestingly, “El Molo” means ‘those who make their living from other than cattle’.
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By Africarivista
Moken Tribe, Mergui Archipelago
The Moken Tribe are semi-nomadic, spending most of their lives on wooden boats off the shores of the 800 islands claimed by both Burma and Thailand. Unsurprisingly, the Moken people depend on the sea for food, but due to water pollution, their food supply is shrinking, causing them to fear extinction. Although they prefer to stay peaceful, the Moken people defend their tribe through spears and other weapons.
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By rafael_streit
Cham People, Vietnam
The Cham people live on the coast of central Vietnam and possess a culture strongly influenced by the Indian culture. Besides eating rice and fish, Cham’s greatly enjoy betel chewing. The majority of Cham build their own houses and adhere to a specific floor plan: the sitting room, rooms for the parents, children and married women, the kitchen and warehouse and the nuptial room for the youngest daughter.
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Bahnar People, Vietnam
The Bahnar ethnic people are famously known for their traditional costumes. Through their costumes, onlookers can understand the tribes cultural and religious beliefs. The Bahnar people grow cotton plants and spin the fibers into a thread in order to create their costumes. One of the most typical features is the sleeves, which highlights the gracefulness of wearers.
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Koho People, Vietnam
The Koho are the oldest ethnic group in the southern central highlands of Vietnam. This tribe lives mainly in high mountains, helping the Koho people stay isolated and maintain their traditions and customs. They are well-known for practicing a nomadic lifestyle. Interestingly, during their agricultural festivals, the Koho’s set up a neu bamboo pole to invite God to come and participate in their festivals.
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Links and References

My Modern Met – Atlas of 500 Women