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Honor & identity

 

To illustrate the way in which wearable heritage is connected to aspects like honor and identity, I will use the example of the (face) veil. In the Asian and African region face veils are worn for several reasons. The veil is worn for protection, out of respect, the (natural) elements and it is also worn against the supernatural, like the Evil Eye.
But, it is also worn to display group identity of the wearer and draw the individual into anonymity at the same time. On the other hand the veil will be recognizable and very individual, since personal amulets were traditionally sewn onto these pieces of cloth. The veil also represents the honor of a person both in moral sense, in economic sense and in accordance with social status, since the veil is decorated with riches of the dowry, or mahr, in Arabic. The veils are made of rich textiles and are often decorated with valuable objects, coins, stones and beads. Besides, by wearing the veil, a person bestows honor onto the people he or she meets and onto a higher being or God.
 
In the Asian and North African region, items I call wearable heritage, often less than 100 years old, are not valued similarly as in Europe or America. What has almost become a new lifestyle for the European region - culture and heritage - is in the region often still being designated as old-fashioned and backward. Veils like the ones we described are worn less and less often for that reason.
 
Traditional head covers in carefully lighted displays in Europe, sometimes sold for thousands of euro’s on the internet market, are sold in Turkmenistan for a fraction of the price to tourists. For the European visitor these head covers and veils symbolize authenticity and handicrafts long ago practiced in their own region as well. They also symbolize uniqueness and still a hunger for romanticism and identity. Face veils are the symbol of  identity and uniqueness that is lacking in Europe.