Nice hat!

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“The key to good millinery is spontaneity.” I liked that phrase, found in a Telegraph review of this book: Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa, by Hans Silvester (Thames & Hudson).

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The book documents two African tribes in the Omo Valley (at the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan): the Surma and Mursi. As far as I could tell from the coverage—I have not read the book—these people adorn themselves with fantastically inventive headdresses, neckpieces and less classifiable ornamentation purely for the beauty of it. And wow is it ever beautiful, judging by the pictures I have seen. The materials include leaves, stems, flowers, roots, feathers, snail shells, butterfly wings, boar’s teeth, seed pods, and various pigments made from organic sources.

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There were likely very specific reasons for all this, but the origins have been lost over the years. One thing is certain: this is also an area that increasingly threatened by warfare, climate change, and international tourism.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com

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