This video from the World Wildlife Federation shows Himba women in Namibia harvesting omumbiri1 and making perfume. About 4 minutes long. You can read more about this project at The Nature Conservancy.
1. Omumbiri is the local name for the resin from the Commiphora wildii tree, a relative of the Commiphora myrrha tree that produces myrrh. You can read more about omumbiri resin at Anya's Garden, or at the African Aromatics page at Facebook, which is the source of this quote:
The Omumbiri is used only for perfume making among the Himba. They make both a dry powdered perfume and the ochre, butterfat mix perfume. The dry perfume mix is made up of more than 20 plants – some of which are not found in the area. Karin Knott has been trying to identify these plants – but a few are found only on the holy mountain and as she says. “I haven’t been given the privilege of going there yet.” Karen Knott [note: the plant ecologist in the video above] works in the Kunene Region for the IRDNC, a field-based, non-governmental, Namibian organisation that gives technical and financial support to the communal conservancies
Perfume often gets a bad rap from fume-o-phobes as a pointless ladies-who-lunch frippery. I was fascinated to watch these beautiful people living as minimally and humbly as possible, still prioritizing perfume and glamour (those fantastic hairdos!). It would appear that wanting to smelling pretty is a basic human desire!
I loved when the narrator said, “They say it makes them feel beautiful.” That’s it, isn’t it. They are beautiful, but this makes them FEEL beautiful. We all want to feel beautiful.
Well, more than that — it’s an answer to the fact that they apparently never wash with water, ever, even their hands (they use dust to clean their hands). So, as with the early days of perfume in the west, it also serves a purpose beyond beauty.
Fascinating. Another perfume that exists, but we can’t have it. Someone has to post this on MUA, next time someone wants to know which scent attracts men.
I was so intrigued by the idea of the dry perfume mentioned on Facebook…wouldn’t you love to get your hands on that??
I can send you a sample of the dry perfume. I described it in my post;
Is Southern Africa The Cradle of Perfumes? in my African Aromatic blog.
Thanks for the link Sophia, fascinating blog!
Fabulous morsel of media. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Robin. The women are stunningly beautiful, and we recognize them as our counterparts in another place (and almost another time).
I send my thanks out to YouTube. I was trying to explain to my son how different the world was before the internet, but he doesn’t get it.
So true, R.
Here’s recent example. In a class on Monday, the assignment was for groups of students to put together a study on how the Olympic games here in Vancouver might impact future small-business growth, economic recovery and the retirement picture for Baby Boomers.
Each group had access to the internet. They had two hours to complete the assignment. The class was back in an hour and a half with comprehensive presentations on their individual subjects. The quality of their work and their evident understanding of the underlying principles was astonishingly high.
Remove internet access from the equation, and imagine the difference in what they could have achieved in less than two hours. Wow, huh?
Yes…would have taken two hours just to start to find potential sources.
The one downfall, for me, is that despite my best efforts, I consume more information but read books so much less than I used to.
Love this. Love seeing women in such vastly different cultures. They’re gorgeous. Their hair ornaments are fascinating! I’d love to hang out with these women and share stories…and try their perfume!!!
You can find some great shots of the hairstyles around the ‘nets…would love to know more about how they do them. Very cool.
This was so wonderful to watch. Such a far cry from the elaborately packaged and presented perfumes that cost hundreds (which I also love here and there), and an amazing way of feeling connected with women whose life is so different in many ways yet not so dissimilar in others. This was a real pleasure to watch. Thank you, Robin. I’m going to watch it with the kiddos later. I think they’ll love it as well given we just had the ‘everyone’s beautiful in their own unique way’ discussion the other night as well as how curious about ingredient origins and helpful they are when I’m whipping up some organic bath/body something in the kitchen. This truly made me smile.
So glad! And hope the kids enjoy it. The “everyone is beautiful in their own way” is a hard sell to young kids, I find. Oh well, you live, you learn.
I hope this is the next big thing :).
Wouldn’t that be cool?