In Yemen, legends are told of the empress Bilqis (the Biblical Queen of Sheba) and her journey to Jerusalem to the wise king Solomon. The second Bilqis is the name given to the medieval Yemeni ruler Arwa (ca. 1074—1138). However, the Yemeni woman plays the main role not in public life, but in family affairs. The world of women has its own customs. The art of being beautiful is highly valued. In cosmetics, henna is used for putting patterns on the arms, face and body; kohl for eyeliner; a power made of the leaves of the ‘ilb tree (Zizyphus jujuba) for body hygiene and painting the eyebrows; turmeric and yellow Indian hurd for colouring the skin. The ancient road of incense passed through South Arabia to the Mediterranean. This is the home of such aromas as frankincense and myrrh, and these fragrances continue to be exuded by the dresses of Yemeni women. The patterns on their clothes are supposed to frighten away evil spirits and protect them from the evil eye, and the cowry shells help to bring them many healthy children. The husband gives the bride silver jewellery: wide belts, earrings, pendants, head jewellery, and arm and leg bracelets which ring melodically when they dance. These days, noble silver is being replaced by gold. When they leave their house, Yemeni women put on a wide dark gown hiding their figure, and a headscarf and veil.
Face covering — burqa‘. Hadramawt.
Women’s festive dress. Silk, embroidery, appliqué. Hadramawt.
Fan. Platted palm leaf. Hadramawt.
Ear-rings with bells. White metal. Hadramawt.
Bracelets. White metal. Hadramawt.
Patterns for henna. Paper. Used to colour women’s arms. Sana‘a’.
Video (2.3. Мb)
About Exhibition | The Expeditions Are not Over | The Soviet‑Yemen complex expedition (SOYCE) | SOYCE: Studies on Hadramawt Antropology and Ethnography | IJMA= CONCORD | www.kunstkamera.ru