Hello! Everybody who tuned in on the title: Bad Luck! I just put the word hijab into the title to ”up” my disappointing blogstats a bit.
This post is really about the weird regional traditional Dutch dresses! Which also include covering the head.
Oh, well, let’s throw some fuel on the fire: In my mind there is a clear correlation, looking back over the past 3000 years, between women being regarded as second rate human beings, and dress-restrictions. Especially covering. Or, as is the fashion in the west now; uncovering.
I don’t care how much some individuals are convinced they cover themselves with restricting fabric because they are liberated, and doing it of their own free will. I’m sure they do truly believe so, and I do respect that. But I’m also convinced the concept of covering is not invented by women, but by men who are always looking for ways to control women. By any means possible.
And a favorite means is, to declare: ”It’s for your own good” coupled with: ”God wants you to” . That one makes all resistance virtually futile.
Historically, and to date, covering of women can be seen in societies where women have had their powers and economical independence taken away, and were regarded as part of men’s possessions. In Greece women were literally mentioned on lists of household goods. Of course they had to cover. Actually, they were only allowed out of the house one day a year. In Rome every married woman was considered a priestess of Vesta and had to be veiled. Through the Roman Christian faith, with has been so successful in taking away the rights of women all over the world, the concept of covering the head for women was also induced into Europe.
Anyway, Dutch traditional dress. This one is especially for my sister Suroor who like traditions so much. The Netherlands are but a little speck on the map. But, because all Dutch always think they know better than the next person, there is an enormous diversity in regional dresses, and, for your education and amusement, I’m going to show you a few of them. The poorer a region; the more ancient in style the dresses. In very poor regions the dresses were almost medieval! up to about sixty years ago, some fishing villages still kept to the medieval mourning custom where women covered themselves with their skirt turned up over their heads.
That wasn’t as indecent as it sounds, they could wear as many as 11 other skirts underneath!
So about the weird regional dresses. One thing I have to point out first is the use of what is called the ”ear-iron” This was originally a metal wire that went around the head, with a curl at the end, and used to attach the head cover. But over the centuries it evolved in different forms all over the Netherlands.
The ear-iron’s function is to keep the halal christian head-covers in place, and have been used for hundreds of years. Here you see a very old painting of a lady with head-cloth. To proof she is Dutch she’s carrying a couple of Dutch cheeses.
A second detail of dress I’d like to mention is lace. On some photo’s you’ll see an awful lot of lace, and I want to make clear that making lace by hand is an extremely difficult and time consuming business. A lace parure could cost more than your jewellery together!
Here you see a lady making a simple bit of lace ribbon, check out the bobbins. Imagine the enourmous numbers of bobbins were needed for a piece of really intricate lace!
I’ll start off with my province, Groningen, and next to it, Friesland. The province of the Frisian horses. The ”Black Pearls of the North”. These horses look their best in front of an eighteenth-century ”Sjees” driven by a handsome couple in traditional dress.
The ear-iron could also support a kind of sunscreen to protect your complexion from the sun (A lady was néver tanned!)
So, the irons used in the North are amongst the largest in the Netherlands. And they were essential! If you were poor you wore a silver one, and if you were pathetically poor a brass one. But it was unseemly to go about without one. There were subscriptions to raise money to get orphan girls their ear-irons so they could get jobs, and there were skating competitions for girls to win a gold ear-iron. If fashions had not changed I am sure I’d have tried much harder on becoming a good skater.
There is one snag with wearing these ear-irons: on top is a lace cap, underneath is a black cap, under the black cap is a white cap, and to be able to fit all of that on your head you have to
CUT OFF YOUR HAIR!!!!!!
Which brings us to this delightful painting of a family-crisis: Here we see the stern, Groninger, Mater Familias, (and you can’t see it very well, but believe me, she’s holding an enormous pair of scissors!) The young daughter is distraught and holding on to her golden locks, the threatening ear-iron and lace cap are ready in the corner. The elder sister is trying to console her weeping sister and calming down the determined mother.
And this is how it is still worn today (on special occasions)
It’s getting too long, digest this, dear readers, and tune in for the second part!