THE OMO PEOPLE, by Hans Silvester

Dernière mise à jour : 12 mars 2021

German photographer Hans Silvester reveals through his photos some of the most ancient tribes of the world: Surma & Mursi tribes, also known as the Omo People, living along the Omo river between Ethiopia, Kenya & Sudan.


Children and teenagers paint their bodies and use flowers, grasses, leaves as ornementations.

There is no precise meaning for doing it, they just paint each other bodies as canvases with natural pigments from the river. Everyone is a unique piece of art and you can only admire their endless creativity.


However, these photos can create a controversy. The big success of Hans Silvester helped developing tourism and the visitors wants to see the same people, but not all the tribes in the region are doing these spontaneous creations. Whatever, most of the tribes are now doing it in a more elaborated way so the tourist can reproduce the famous photos and the locals can earn money.

Beyond the beauty of this, Hans Silvester highlights important risky elements.

These tribes were still preserved from globalization until China invested in their region.

They want to develop tourism and start giving them objects they never saw nor used before, such as mirrors. It is an innocent object but for example, teenagers used to paint on each others so they could only see the beauty of their painted bodies through the way the others were looking at them. Now they have mirrors, it will modify this process.

There is also the last exhibition's topic of the German photographer named Kalach.

Wars and conflicts brought weapons in the region and a lot of AK-47 are present among the tribes to defend their cattles and themselves from thieves and criminals. The nuance is quite shocking while looking at Hans' photos: teenagers from remote tribes preserved from our crazy globalisation, with strong traditions holding AK-47, literally the worst object of our civilisation. We can only feel ashamed for this.


You can buy one of his book called "Natural Fashion: Tribal decoration from Africa" here

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