Ondjise (Hair Extension)

Ondjise (Hair Extension)

Ondjise is the name for the hair extensions worn by Ovahimba women. The braids are made from a mixture of natural hair, woven hay, goat hair and artificial hair extensions. It is coloured with ochre (otjize). There has been a perception in Namibia that wigs were introduced by Europeans and they have been viewed as `Non-African’.  However, archival photographs show Namibian women already wearing hair extensions when they had their first contact with Europeans. However, it is clear that hair extensions have changed over time as trends changed in a community and different materials became available.


An Ondjise that was purchased in the market in Opuwo in 2020 (Collection of the Museum of Namibian Fashion)


Do you know whether women wore hair extensions in the past in your community ?  If so, what were they called and what were they made of ?

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