Personal adornment


In addition to interpreting wearable heritage as something one should wear, such as costume or ornaments on the body, also other forms of adornment may be considered. In these pages I would like to refer to two aspects of adornment specifically: make-up and dance. The use of make-up does not only enhance the features of the wearer. The use of for instance kohl in the WANA region is also a way to protect the wearer against sun, help keep the eyes clean and protect the wearer against the influences of evil. Because of this important role of kohl in the different societies, the containers for kohl are often elaborately decorated and worn on the body or hung in houses. Both container and content are known for their apotropaic qualities. Something similar also holds true for the use of henna and tattoo’s in Bedouin society.
Dance plays a similar role. Dance does not only fulfill a beauty-enhancing role, it is also used as a social phenomenon (for instance in female parts of society, where oriental dance is used to strengthen muscles before and after giving birth and is used as a social gathering). Dance often holds a debatable status in societies. Dress and costume associated with dance is therefore of a different kind than dress worn in daily life. Especially scarves used in dance are decorated often with metal bells or coins that produce a rattling sound. The scarves are used to enhance the female body shape, which is otherwise kept unseen. Dance is also used in rituals to ward off evil. The zār ritual, although not the same as a dance ritual, can be seen in the same light. In the zār even amulets are used that are later attached to costume as ornaments to ward off evil.

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