Africa and Asia offer many more opportunities to experience the wide variety of dress that traditional peoples have created for themselves. In Yunnan Province of South China alone, there are many different groups with totally unique forms of dress from the Bai People to the Yi to Tibetans who have moved to the area and many others. The dressmakers from this area are highly skilled and the costumes extremely elaborate and pleasing to the eye. We stumbled upon a market near Lake Erhai in Yunnan where every single person was dressed in their distinctive cultural fashion. The many tribal peoples in Southeast Asia also distinguish themselves as coming from one village or area by their dress alone. One cannot fail to recognize the Hmong or the White Karen or the Yao people simply by what they wear. Of course, what we are accustomed to considering traditional Indian dress is common in most of the villages of that country as is the dress of rural Chinese but each of these vast nations has scores of tribal people as well who maintain their own traditions and decorations. These are a treasure for the curious and a great opportunity for the photographer.
Africa offers fantastic variations as well. While there are amazing costumes from the tribes of Niger to the heights of Ethiopia, many of the groups in this area distinguish themselves by face and body painting as well as by dress. Traditional peoples are scattered throughout the continent. One can find find incredible tribal dress in Namibia and equally compelling outfits in the deserts of Mali or Mauritania. The South Pacific area is equally rich in the clothing of the people (or lack of it.) From the hills of New Guinea to the many islands off its coast, people paint their faces often on a daily basis with careful detail and imaginative forms. Their decorating may even be one of the most important and time-taking activities of the day. Among the many treats of Third World travel is the incredible variation that men and women have utilized to cover or decorate their bodies. Take a good look as you travel along.
Woman Smoking Cheroot, Burma