Neko of the Omo River

Na’vi of Second Life take note: authentic beauty and a connection to nature does not exist only in the realm of computer graphics. Step away from virtual Pandora and travel with me to a very real, very lush river valley in Ethiopia, where residents with uncommon artistic vision create beauty that will take your breath away.

Allow me to introduce you to the people of the Omo River

Deep in the heart of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, where the earth is being torn apart by up to 10 centimeters a year, all sorts of natural mineral pigments lay exposed — a veritable painter’s palette waiting to be tapped by a creative eye. Add in the natural flora of the jungle, with its vibrant green leaves, colorful flowers, and uniquely shaped grasses, and the only thing missing is a canvas.

To the Surma and Mursi tribes of the Omo River, there is no better canvas than the dark, beautiful skin of a body.

Every morning the ritual begins anew: mothers paint babies, adults and children paint each other (or themselves), with fresh flowers and leaves to complement the design in an expression of rare and stunning beauty. Without architecture or crafts, the ongoing tradition of ever changing, ever evolving creativity is deeply valued by the tribe as their primary sense of identity, expression and esteem.

Thankfully, those of us unable to travel to this remote area of the world can catch glimpses of it through the photography of Hans Silvester. His quiet, tasteful images depict an incredibly wide variety of the tribes’ inventive designs, in an effort to help the world discover, connect and preserve the tradition for all time. Silvester’s award-winning photos have been displayed in several art shows around the world, and the majority of his collection is contained in two books: Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley, and the smaller Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa.

Says Silvester: “What’s most important for me is saving, in some way, as much as possible of this truly living art, which is mobile, changing, subject to infinite variation, and whose constituent elements… form a link between man and nature.”

To this Neko, every one of these images is a treasure: capturing a rare moment in time in which one person’s unique and magical expression of art, fashioned from the most basic of elements, existed only for a day.

About Hans Silvester

Born in 1938 in Lorrach, Germany, and based in southern France, Silvester is recognized for his wide-ranging oeuvre and a protracted study of his subjects, which are most frequently nature, animals and the environment. His work is the subject of almost fifty books, including a photo essay on Camargue in 1960, a well-regarded documentation of Europe’s nature preserves in 1982, and a series of books on Provence published throughout the 1990s. All credit for the photos of the Omo people used in this blog are copyright to Hans Silvester.

Neko Fashion in Honor of the Omo River People
(and certainly suitable for Second Life’s Na’vi population…)

| Eyes | SbZ/Shapes by Zada: Eye Fidelity Neko eyes Stormclouds (sadly, this wonderful store is on hiatus)
| Skin | Alpha Tribe: Orka
| Hair | Boon: LUV205 in black
| Tiny Butterflies over my head | Sanu: Tiny Butterfly (two individual butterflies attached to the extra Emerald attachment points: mouth 2, and chin 2, and edited to float over my head)
| Head flowers, purple | Caverna Obscura: Bluebell Wreath (attached to nose)
| Head flowers, white | Caverna Obscura: Cherry Blossom Wreath (attached to mouth)
| Head wreath, mushrooms | Caverna Obscura: Turkey Tail Faerie Outfit’s Turkey Tail Wreath (attached to chin)
| White flower behind right ear | TikiTattoo: Jewel FlowerSet 1 Ear (worn on Emerald’s alternate right ear 2 attachment)
| Ears & Tail | GPD / Gothic Passionate (Neko) Dreams: Omo Neko, in Black — see a vendor photo here. I can not begin to say enough about this amazing set. Designer Saur Holt truly went out of her way to create a spectacular set covered in sculpted flowers of varying shape and color (and was ever so patient with all of this kitteh’s feedback during the design process!) Not only do you get an amazing set of ears and tail with this set, but you get flowers for the rest of your body too… all with the same great attention to detail. And crazy cheap, knowing all the work that went into these! To find them, come into the “Main Room / New Release” area and walk to the back wall.
| Necklace #1 Acorns and Leaves | Caverna Obscura: Summer Oak Dryad Outfit – Branches Top + Necklace (worn on spine)
| Necklace #2 Mushrooms | Caverna Obscura: Turkey Tail Faerie Outfit – Necklace (includes “chest shrooms” shelf mushrooms; worn on chest)
| Butterflies on my left shoulder | Canimal: Skellyflies (attached to left shoulder; these are click to color change): these are located in a blue striped cart outside the store
| White Flowers Armstrap, Right upper arm | TikiTattoo: Jewel FlowerSet 1, Handle R (attached to Emerald’s second attachment point for right upper arm)
| Vine Armstrap, Right upper arm | Caverna Obscura: Summer Oak Dryad outfit – braselet (worn on right upper arm)
| Vine Armstrap, Left upper arm | Caverna Obscura: Summer Oak Dryad outfit – braselet (worn on left upper arm)
| Mushroom Bracelet, Left lower arm | Caverna Obscura: Turkey Tail Faerie Outfit, Mushroom Faeri Lower Bracelet (worn on left forearm)
| Acorn Bracelet, Right lower | Kosh: Oaken wristbands (worn on right forearm)
| Pink Flower Bracelet, Right wrist | TikiTattoo: Flower Set 2, Handle R (worn on Emerald’s second forearm 2 attachment point)
| Acorn Ring | Kosh: Oaken ring (worn on left hand)
| Leaf Bra | Caverna Obscura: Summer Oak Dryad Outfit – Branches Top + Necklace (worn on spine)
| Flowers by Leaf Bra | GPD / Gothic Passionate (Neko) Dreams: Omo Neko set, Omo Flower for chest (worn on Emerald’s alternate Chest 2 attachment) — these are included in the “ears/tail” set listed above
| Leaf Skirt | Caverna Obscura: Summer Oak Dryad – Branches Skirt (worn on pelvis)
| Leg vine straps | Illusions: Hedera Calf Coils (worn on lower leg)

(Click image to enlarge) Far Left: side view of hair wreaths, amazing flower-bedecked Neko Omo ears by Gothic Passionate Dreams, dreadlocks hair from Boon, and the necklaces from both Caverna Obscura outfits. Second from Left: Caverna Obscura’s Turkey Tail Faerie Mushroom Bracelet, Caverna Obscura’s Summer Oak Dryad leaf skirt, and Saur Holt’s beautiful Neko Omo tail covered with colorful sculpty flowers. Center: Side view of the same bracelet, and the vine armstrap from Caverna Obscura’s Summer Oak Dryad outfit. Second from Right: Butterflies on my left shoulder from Canimal (with lovely little tribal-looking skully heads). Far Right: Opposite view of my various hair wreaths and necklace, and the white flower behind my ear from Tiki Tattoo.

Additional “Flora and Fauna” Outfit Options
(many discovered via Terry Toland’s lovely blog)

| Palm Leaf Hair | Stringer Mausoleum: Mane of Earth
| Hair with a Flower Wreath | Exile: Li
| Hair with a Flower | Truth: Berry
| Palm Leaf & Flower Hair Wreaths, Leis, and Grass Skirts | TikiTattoo: outfits include Polynesian No. 1, Hawaiian Hula 1, Hawaiian Hula 2, plus various lei and flower sets.
| Flower Hair Wreath | Frog’s Garden: the gatcha machine has all sorts of colorful hair wreaths for just $10L… who knows which one you might get?
| Hair Corsages and Wreaths | Gabriel: Calla Lily, Blue Tulip, Orange Daisies, Red or White Roses (in the back of the store, lower level)
| Hair Corsage | AtomicBambi: Dubai
| Hair Corsage | AYLine: Flower corsage
| Roses Hairbands and Chokers | ###Ms: Rose Accesary Set
| Flower Circlet or Choker | Kitheres Industries: Sakura Cherry Blossom
| Flower Set for Head, Chest, Stomach, Bracelet and More | Son!a Luxury Fashion: Willow Tree Dress (this outfit comes with a long “bark texture” dress, and all sorts of branchy rose attachments. Choose white, blue, red, or orangey roses. If the slurl doesn’t take you to the right place, teleport to the “Fantasy” section of the store, and look in the Southwest corner of the room you arrive in.)
| Roses “bra and underwear” | December: Roses Christmas
| Tree Roots Outfit | Exile: Untamed Earth
| Vines and Silks Outfit | Illusions: Varda (rose necklace, earrings, and hair ornaments)
| Roses for your wrists | Dark Eden: Thorns of Love
| Twig arm and leg straps | Fallen Gods Inc.: Fleurs outfit
| White Roses ankle wraps | Ztique: White Roses Wedding White Shoes (upper prim attachment only)

See More Amazing Photos of the Omo Tribes:

Learn More about the Surma and Mursi Tribes of the Omo River:

Breathtakingly beautiful Second Life photos by the wonderful Bobby Yoshikawa <3***

© Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko in Second Life – 2010


13 Responses to “Neko of the Omo River”

  1. […] Allow me to introduce you to the people the Omo River, with fashion interpreted by a little VirtualNeko Kitteh… […]

  2. WOW! that is awesome!!! Fantastic post! ❤

  3. […] research and creativity in exploring our world and our second world. So, stop reading this and click here to read Neko of the Omo River by Stacia […]

  4. You continue to outdo yourself. No small feat, dear heart. Marvelous.

  5. Fabulous post as always, LOVE it!

  6. WOW…
    *tries to think of something else to write*
    no, just WOW 🙂

  7. Thanks so much everyone… I was so excited to share the amazing story of the Omo people, happy to hear you are all enjoying it as much as I did!

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stacia Villota, Cajsa. Cajsa said: says replurking (Neko of the Omo River by Stacia Villota) Incredible blog post! […]

  9. That…is just beautifully done. Wonderful work and combination of items for the clothing.

  10. Wow Stacia!!! just……wow

  11. Stacia… you are freakin amazing. This is absolutely gorgeous, inspired, and unique. I am blown away. Thanks for uh, raising the bar WAYYYY over my head.

  12. Night, Anita, Harper… thank you so much for your compliments. ❤

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