the two scheduled for Spring 2003 release:
Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 20, 2002 at 17:20:46:
Harquus: History, Traditions and Patterns (CCJ)
(I'm sorting out the tons of material on that now ...... getting the
collection of about 1,000 authentic traditional patterns I've dug out
of archives organized .... )
Here's the abstract on the other project. I'm really looking forward
to working through this one! Yes, I had to buy a new file cabinet. I
hope this proposal is accepted so I can deliver this paper at
Liverpool U in January at the Menstruation conference. In any case
... I'll plow though this one this fall.
Menstruation and Henna: Pollution and Purification
The Purification Role of Henna Use: Case Studies from North Africa,
the Middle East and Bangladesh
Catherine Cartwright Jones, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
In traditional Islam, a menstruating woman is vulnerable, weakened,
and polluted, therefore cannot pray, fast, or enter a mosque.
Intercourse with a menstruating woman is strictly forbidden. Islamic
tenets did not create these taboos; they reiterated pre-existing
Semitic traditions. Islamic menstrual taboos are based on a concept
of pollution/vulnerability versus purity/strength. For menstruating
women, the vulnerability derives from the Evil Eye, and a world
populated by Djinn, malevolent spirits irresistibly drawn to blood.
These evil forces cause disease, infertility, and tragedy.
Menstruating women are particularly prone to calamity due to these
destructive forces; therefore misfortune is ascribed to menstruating
women. Henna and running water, within this view of menarche,
purifies women at the end of the menstrual cycle, so she can resume
prayer, fasting and intercourse. Hennaed women are no longer
especially vulnerable to hazardous evil forces that bring about misery
to their families and communities.
This paper examines the menstrual and genital blood taboos and their
association with Djinn and the Evil Eye, offering examples from
Islamic North Africa, the Middle East and Bangladesh. It demonstrates
that these taboos are based on cultural justifications from medieval
Arab texts that defined menstrual pollution and henna?s purification
as a logical extension of Islamic theological and scientific thought.
I demonstrate that menstrual taboos offered a useful explanation of
disease and calamity, and define women?s position and sexual
expression in society according to oppositions of
pollution/vulnerability or purification/strength. I discuss the
impact of globalization on henna use and menstrual taboos during the
modern era, changed by western fashion and western explanations of
disease and catastrophe.
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