Its amazing how much the original Somali culture has changed in some regards while staying the same in others.
So reer maagal combed their hair out in afros like this while reer miyi used butter in their hair like the Canfar still do today.The Somal, therefore, by their own traditions, as well as their strongly marked physical peculiarities, their customs, and their geographical position, may be determined to be a half-caste tribe, an offshoot of the great Galla race, approximated, like the originally Negro-Egyptian, to the Caucasian type by a steady influx of pure Asiatic blood
In personal appearance the race is not unprepossessing. The crinal hair is hard and wiry, growing, like that of a half-caste West Indian, in stiff ringlets which sprout in tufts from the scalp, and, attaining a moderate length, which they rarely surpass, bang down. A few elders, savans, and the wealthy, who can afford the luxury of a turban, shave the head. More generally, each filament is duly picked out with the comb or a wooden scratcher like a knitting-needle, and the mass made to resemble a child's "pudding," an old bob-wig, a mop, a counsellor's peruke, or an old- fashioned coachman's wig,--there are a hundred ways of dressing the head. The Bedouins, true specimens of the "greasy African race," wear locks dripping with rancid butter, and accuse their citizen brethren of being more like birds than men.
It looks like culturally our ancestors were very similar to modern canfar. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... ffect.html
The colouring matter of the hair, naturally a bluish-black, is removed by a mixture of quicklime and water, or in the desert by a lessive of ashes (130): this makes it a dull yellowish-white, which is converted into red permanently by henna, temporarily by ochreish earth kneaded with water. The ridiculous Somali peruke of crimsoned sheepskin,--almost as barbarous an article as the Welsh,--is apparently a foreign invention: I rarely saw one in the low country, although the hill tribes about Harar sometimes wear a black or white "scratch-wig."
The head is rather long than round, and generally of the amiable variety, it is gracefully put on the shoulders, belongs equally to Africa and Arabia, and would be exceedingly weak but for the beauty of the brow. As far as the mouth, the face, with the exception of high cheek-bones, is good; the contour of the forehead ennobles it; the eyes are large and well-formed, and the upper features are frequently handsome and expressive. The jaw, however, is almost invariably prognathous and African; the broad, turned- out lips betray approximation to the Negro; and the chin projects to the detriment of the facial angle. The beard is represented by a few tufts; it is rare to see anything equal to even the Arab development: the long and ample eyebrows admired by the people are uncommon, and the mustachios are short and thin, often twisted outwards in two dwarf curls. The mouth is coarse as well as thick-lipped; the teeth rarely project as in the Negro, but they are not good; the habit of perpetually chewing coarse Surat tobacco stains them, (131) the gums become black and mottled, and the use of ashes with the quid discolours the lips. The skin, amongst the tribes inhabiting the hot regions, is smooth, black, and glossy; as the altitude increases it becomes lighter, and about Harar it is generally of a cafe au lait colour.
I'm surprised that reer miyi used to put scars on their face. It might be a custom we got from the Oromo who I know do this.The Bedouins are fond of raising beauty marks in the shape of ghastly seams, and the thickness of the epidermis favours the size of these stigmates. The male figure is tall and somewhat ungainly. In only one instance I observed an approach to the steatopyge, making the shape to resemble the letter S; but the shoulders are high, the trunk is straight, the thighs fall off, the shin bones bow slightly forwards, and the feet, like the hands, are coarse, large, and flat. Yet with their hair, of a light straw colour, decked with the light waving feather, and their coal-black complexions set off by that most graceful of garments the clean white Tobe, (132) the contrasts are decidedly effective.
In mind the Somal are peculiar as in body. They are a people of most susceptible character, and withal uncommonly hard to please. They dislike the Arabs, fear and abhor the Turks, have a horror of Franks, and despise all other Asiatics who with them come under the general name of Hindi (Indians).
They have all the levity and instability of the Negro character; light-minded as the Abyssinians,--described by Gobat as constant in nothing but inconstancy,--soft, merry, and affectionate souls, they pass without any apparent transition into a state of fury, when they are capable of terrible atrocities. At Aden they appear happier than in their native country.
This state is doubtless increased by the perpetual presence of danger and the uncertainty of life, which make them think of other things but dancing and singing. Much learning seems to make them mad; like the half-crazy Fakihs of the Sahara in Northern Africa, the Widad, or priest, is generally unfitted for the affairs of this world, and the Hafiz or Koran-reciter, is almost idiotic.
Travelling among the Bedouins, I found them kind and hospitable. A pinch of snuff or a handful of tobacco sufficed to win every heart, and a few yards of coarse cotton cloth supplied all our wants, I was petted like a child, forced to drink milk and to eat mutton; girls were offered to me in marriage; the people begged me to settle amongst them, to head their predatory expeditions, free them from lions, and kill their elephants; and often a man has exclaimed in pitying accents, "What hath brought thee, delicate as thou art, to sit with us on the cowhide in this cold under a tree?"