Dinka Women in Beaded Bodices by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherAfrican Ceremonies
At its essence, culture can be described as the shared ideas, customs, and social behaviours of any society. In many places, this is at its most vital during ceremonial rites and events, when the collective manifestation of a culture is expressed in its purest form.
Unmarried Surma Girl (1986) by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherAfrican Ceremonies
Across the vast and hugely diverse continent of Africa, these shared ceremonial experiences give us a glimpse into some of the oldest and most unique cultures on the planet, including the bonding power of these events, especially for women.
Swahili Henna Design, Lamu Island, Kenya by Angela Fisher & Carol BeckwithAfrican Ceremonies
On Lamu Island in Kenya, the artistic tradition of intricately decorating women's bodies with henna shows incredible imagination and skill. The dye is made from a combination of powdered leaves and lemon juice, and is applied up to five or six times, usually with fine twigs.
Hamar women, Ethiopia by Angela Fisher & Carol BeckwithAfrican Ceremonies
The armlets and bracelets worn by these Hamar women are permanently fixed onto their arms by local blacksmiths. This is combined with traditional beads, worn in an array of color combinations on various places around the body.
Surma Girls Face-Painting at River Bank (1988) by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherAfrican Ceremonies
Surma face painting
Girls in the Surma tribe in Ethiopia paint each others faces in the run up to the courting season. They also paint their bodies in order to make themselves stand out. This usually happens after the harvest time when marriage proposals are usually common.
Himba Wedding Guest (1994) by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherAfrican Ceremonies
Himba body painting
The women of the Himba tribe of north Namibia use a mixture of butter, fat, and red ochre called otjize to cover their hair and body. Each morning they apply the paste, which is believed to protect them against the sun but also to remind them of their ancestral heritage.
Ndebele House Painting (1996) by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherAfrican Ceremonies
Ndebele house painting
A great tribe of warriors from South Africa, this tradition of house painting is carried out by women, using detailed and colorful designs. The drawings contain a secret code, passed down through generations of women artists, which can only be decoded by fellow Ndebele people.
Veiled Rashaida Dancer (1992) by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherAfrican Ceremonies