Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chag Urim Sameach, Happy (Anticipatory) Thanksgiving, And More

Dear Readers (I've been re-reading Isaac Asimov, hence the opening),

My computer died a few days ago. I hope to maintain a regular posting schedule anyway in the interim, but please be forgiving.

 In other news, I've been doing some really exciting library research to be able to return to my Historical Head Covering series again soon. There are so very many different styles of Jewish head-covering out there, some of them quite, quite unexpected. I've found the (Turkish/Ottoman) precursor to the modern volumizer, a covering that looks like a little girl's princess hat, only prettier, wigs or pieces of fake hair made from silk thread in North Africa, and styles that were first enforced by law, then had to be legislated away because the people refused to stop wearing them. Also, a lot about men's turbans and the meaning of their colors.

I hope I've gotten you a little excited about what's to come.

But I wonder about the plausibility of wearing things inspired by some of these historical fashions. Is borrowing from the past as inappropriate as borrowing from other contemporary cultures? How appropriate is it to borrow from Jewish cultures that aren't your own ethnic background?

 It reminds me of my teenage angst over whether to identify myself on various forms as white/Caucasian or as Jewish (a write-in, obviously). My reasoning at the time was that I identified more with other Jews, no matter what their ethnicity, than I did with people who shared my skin color. Now obviously, that isn't what statisticians are looking for when they are analyzing standardized test scores.  Similarly, the people who get say over who can be part of their group are the group itself, not the people asking for admission.

 But when the question is- which group affiliation is dominant- religious community (which dictates the practice that is shared) or ethnic community (which dictates the style that someone wants to copy), how do those things interact?

 Does the passage of time change any of these factors? Do I still have ownership and identity connections to a style my great-great-great grandmother last wore, and which I likely have never heard of or seen? What if I've seen it in a museum?

 A lot of questions, no real answers. If you have thoughts, as always, I'd love to hear them.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I am writing novels set in an Alternative Universe.
    One of the issues that came up was "What would Jewish dress be in the 1580's if the diaspora/Christianity and Islam had never happened".
    Mostly I have been using Turkish dress,
    but I did come across this fascinating thing
    which would imply that a conical headdress was part of Jewish costume in the pre-exilic period and was a precursor to the Lebanese tantour.