Sunday, September 16, 2018

Why are abayas mostly black in Qatar?

For most women in Qatar and the rest of the Middle East, the abaya is a sign of respect, dignity, modesty and an easy and convenient way to hide the body according to Islamic teachings. It is long and covers the whole body from the neck to the wrists and then down to the feet. It is usually loose and flowing, though some of the newer designs are more form fitting. The abaya is a very common sight in Qatar as well as the other Middle Eastern countries and is also becoming more common in other Muslim countries where woman find it a convenient and comfortable attire to wear over their everyday clothes when they go out of their homes.
Abayafashion
It is believed that the abaya, which was also used by women in the pre-Islamic era, was originally worn to protect the body from heat and sand, to avoid direct exposure to the sun, to stay cool in the summer heat, and as a way to protect them from the winds in winter. It still is! It was also, in ancient times, considered a suitable attire and did not hinder women’s everyday chores round the house.

The abaya is complemented with a headscarf called a Shayla or hijab. This is a scarf that’s tied around the head so no hair is visible. Some women also wear a niqab, which covers both the head and the face. It’s mostly a matter of personal choice or traditions.

read more here @ I Love Qatar

These female groups prove that feminism existed in Africa since the 15th century

Feminism is not a new thing in Africa. It has existed long before the introduction of western cultures, education, the theory of feminism as well as the development of African feminism. Women were allowed to perform specific roles or be part of certain groups that brought prestige and progress to the role of women in African societies.

It is true that many cultures and traditional practices of African societies put men at the forefront of things. But this should not overshadow the fact that many traditional societies allowed women to take up “male roles” which they performed with much pride and diligence.
Though not as many as that of male-dominated societies, there are a few African female societies and groups that demonstrated the existence of feminism in ancient Africa. Today, Africa can boast of staunch feminists such as Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie thanks to ancient African societies and groups such as these.

read more here @ Face2Face Africa

Ancient Female Master Ceramicist

Image result for minoan ceramics
Back in 2009, archaeologists at Eleutherna—an ancient city-state located on the Greek island of Crete—discovered a woman’s skeleton that showed unusual signs of wear. As Michael Price writes for Science Magazine, in comparison to the other females at the site, the muscles on the right side of her body were notably developed, while the cartilage on her knee and hip joints was worn away, leaving the bones smooth and ivory-like. Initial analysis of the woman’s remains, as well as the pottery found in similar graves at the Orthi Petra burial site, indicated that the approximately 45 to 50 year old lived between 900 B.C.. and 650 B.C.

Then, as Cara Giaimo reports for Atlas Obscura, the team chanced upon a master ceramicist who lived near the Eleutherna site. The woman demonstrated how she created her large artisan vases—describing the sets of muscles used and subsequent strain experienced—and provided researchers with a key breakthough in the frustrating case. Her movements and the physical toll exacted by the process, Giaimo writes, closely mirrored that of her 3,000-year-old predecessor.


Read more @ SmithsonianMag

Reviving Japan’s Ancient Ama Fisherwomen Culture

From the Robb Report:
Ohno is part of an elite group of women known as ama uminchu, who for thousands of years have hunted for seafood and pearls in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Toba, in the Ise-Shima region of Japan’s Mie prefecture. One of the country’s oldest professions, dating back to the Jōmon Period (14,000 to 300 BC), the ama have long been comprised almost solely of female free divers, largely because women have more subcutaneous fat than men, and can therefore retain body heat better. And in the past, when diving suits were nothing but a loincloth, keeping warm was a matter between life and death.
Image result for ama fisherwomen
Today, the time-honored culture of the ama persists, though it has waned in recent decades. In 1949, there were 6,109 ama in the cities of Toba and Shima, according to the Toba Sea-Folk Museum; today there are only about 760 on the Shima peninsula. In the past, the role of the amahas been passed down from one generation of women to the next. But these days, the average age of a modern ama is 65, giving rise to the fear that this revered profession may cease to exist in the near future.

read more here @ Robb Report

Friday, September 7, 2018

Ancient Egyptian pregnancy test is revealed by 3,500-year-old papyrus

The ancient Egyptians had a pregnancy test which saw women urinate on bags of wheat and barley, texts from 3,500 years ago have revealed. 

The medical knowledge of the ancient civilisation including treatments for eye diseases is displayed in the papyrus from the New Kingdom era.

The instructions written on papyrus between 1500 and 1300 BC tell women to empty their bladders into a bag of barley and a bag of emmer and wait for a reaction.

Experts said the ancient pregnancy test advice influenced European medical writing and appeared in a book of German folklore as late as 1699. 

read more here @ Daily Mail Online

Women of Forbidden City: Empresses of Qing Dynasty

From CGTN:
An exhibition exploring the role of empresses of China’s last dynasty, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), opened recently at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts.

Nearly 200 spectacular objects from the Palace Museum, once known as the Forbidden City, also home to the empresses, are on display at the exhibition which runs until next February 10.

The display is mainly about three empresses, including Empress Dowager Chongqing, who is honored as the Sage Mother after her son Qianlong Emperor inherited the throne; Empress Xiaoxian, Qianlong Emperor’s beloved wife; and Empress Dowager Cixi, one of the most powerful women in Chinese history.

read more here @ CGTN

A wave focusing on the life of the women living in the Forbidden City during the Qing Dynasty has engulfed Chinese TV screens this summer. “The Story of Yanxi Palace,” a soap opera based on Qianlong Emperor’s consort Empress Xiaoyichun, refreshed the record of TV dramas with 15 billion views in 43 days on iQiyi, a Netflix-like content provider in China.

Set during the days of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), the show follows the predictable yet relatable storyline of how a loyal maid climbs “the imperial ladder” to eventually become the emperor’s favourite concubine.

read more here @ South China Morning Post

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Houston death penalty trial brings focus to scourge of ‘honor killings’

The centuries-old crime of honor killing, stretching back to ancient Rome and present in the Middle East and Latin America, is taking place in America at a rate of more than 20 a year, according to a recent U.S. Justice Department report.

It’s a phenomenon that has concerned women activists given continued migration from countries where honor killings are still reported, although they remain rare in the United States when compared to other homicides.

But over the last several weeks, the ancient scourge has been highlighted in a Houston courtroom as details have emerged about a pair killings masterminded by Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, a 60-year-old Jordanian immigrant. A Harris County jury last month convicted Irsan in “honor killings” of his daughter’s husband, 28-year-old Coty Beavers, and her close friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30, in two seperate shootings in 2012. Prosecutors also presented evidence that Irsan had killed another son-in-law nearly two decades ago.

According to the organization [the AHA Foundation], honor killings often involve several people in the family.

read more here @ Houston Chronicle

Empowering the women of an ancient kingdom

The ancient culture of Morocco has flourished for centuries. With this huge cultural weight, tradition is expected to be upheld, despite the pressures of a postmodern world. A designer from Morocco showed her collection in Rustan’s Manila last week, reconciling Old World tradition with modern fashion flair, and a nod towards the concept of social entrepreneurship.

Fatim-Zahra Ettalbi has been in love with her culture since she was seven years old. She first began sketching during this period, and had always dreamt of wearing traditional Moroccan clothing, summarized in the kaftan. The kaftan, a loose robe or tunic that has been associated with Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, also has a tradition in Morocco, worn by royalty, and now by Moroccans either for festive or everyday use, depending on the level of ornamentation.

According to a report by Morocco World News, the Kingdom of Morocco does not enjoy a high ranking in a gender gap report from the World Economic Forum. This report ranks Morocco at 136 out of 144 countries that seek to bridge the gender gap. The same report says that only 26.9% of women in Morocco are employed, as compared to 78.7% of men.

Eva Palmer, the American who reinvented herself as an ancient Greek goddess

Eva Palmer (1874–1952) was arguably one of the most inspiring and fascinating women of the 20th century, described as both brilliant and gorgeous with floor-length auburn hair.

The American free-thinker, director, performer and creative was widely known as a fashion icon of her time inspired by the ancient Greeks. She was also the beloved wife of seminal Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos with whom she envisioned the Delphic Festivals revival. She had recounted this story herself in her memoirs, but her own story has never been told in detail. Now professor Artemis Leontis has written the first biography of a woman mostly known through the publication of her love letters to her husband. The book, titled ‘A life in ruins’, is expected to come out in February 2019 through Princeton University Press.


read more here

further reading:
Upward Panic: The Autobiography of Eva Palmer-Sikelianos
Eva Palmer Sikelianos: A Life in Ruins by Artemis Leontis