Thursday, May 22, 2014


    We rarely really let our selves out to play.  When we do, and especially when that play is associated with cultural traditions, the way we manifest our attire gets pretty amazing.  All over the world, when it comes to festival times there are some common factors that always emerge.  The first is color; brilliant, saturated color, and lots of it.
                                                          Swazi Reed Dance Festival
    Second is abundance, often in the form of volume, but also often in lush embroideries and decorative details.

    Third is a sense of joy. There is a common thread, (you should pardon the pun) that runs through the attire of festival clothing the world over, and that is an aspect of visual delight, and playfulness.  No matter the seriousness of the occasion, there is an underlying gleefulness that is inescapable.
                                                                     Wodaabe Men

    In Europe and most of the rest of the Western world, traditional festival attire is heavily embroidered in multiple colors, and the various shirts, skirts, vests and pants are often handed down generationally, since they are both family keepsakes, and also the product of possibly thousands of hours of loving work.  This is especially true of places where life is often harsh because of the climate.  Long months shuttered indoors away from icy winds and snow leave hands with time to spare, and it was both a way to while away hours, and also to keep a lighter attitude, working on something bright colored and happy in the dimness of winter.
                                                        Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria
    Wealth is also an aspect of festival attire, as in some cultures plates of silver, or metal coins are sewn directly to the clothes as a brash, and obvious statement of status.  In Russia, clothes are heavily adorned with pearls, and especial the headdress know as a kokoshnik was sometimes entirely covered with pearls, and jewels.  In the Guizhou, in the village of Upper Jidao the women wear these astonishing silver plated headdresses during festival dancing.

                                            Russian Dancer Anna Pavlova in a Kokoshnik
                                                       Upper Jidao Village Dancers

     Wherever you go in our amazing world, whatever culture you visit, this is something you will be able to see and instantly understand.  When we call ourselves to festival, we choose to live in a world of abundance and delight, regardless of what the harsher realities of our lives may insist upon. 
                                                                Kwanzaa Festival
     It stands, (for me) as one of the ways we show our indefatigable spirit as a species.  I find that both comforting, and wonderful in these often difficult times.  No matter what else may portend, we find time and space to rejoice.

1 comment:

  1. What a fun, vibrant post! Love the garments and headdresses so much!!