"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hijabs, Beards, Queues: outward ways we identify and submit

It's rather interesting how we do things to either identify with others or perhaps show our submission. 

Many Muslim women will choose to wear head scarves in order to do one or the other or both. I've heard some argue that they don't believe God requires them to cover their hair, however, they want to wear scarves in order to identify themselves as Muslims.

Probably the same with Amish and Mennonite women who cover their hair.

I think the Taliban required a fist-length beard for Afghani men in order to identify with proper Islamic standards.

And, if memory serves, there are Old Testament rules about how Israelite men were to keep their beards as well as the requirement for circumcision.

I'm currently reading Fortunate Sons by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller. It's about "the 120 Chinese boys who came to America, went to school, and revolutionized an ancient civilization."  The plan was that these 12-14 year old boys would be educated in American high schools and universities such as Yale and possibly study at military academies so that China could learn about technology and military might so they wouldn't always be dependent on western imports and could grow and defend themselves properly.  (This was 1872, by the way.)  These boys were to remain stateside for 15 years before heading home.  (I've not read far enough in the book to see if they stayed that long.  Presently the first high school graduates, who'd been in the US for about five years, are beginning studies at Yale.)

Reading some of the cultural differences made me smile especially since one lady, in a display of motherly affection I suppose, kissed the boy who was staying in her house.  This boy had only bowed his head four times to his own mother as a way of saying goodbye for his fifteen year travel and he later wrote that he had not been kissed since infancy prior to this New England lady kissing his cheek!   Of course the other Chinese boys giggled at this public display of affection.

Anyway, I digress. The reason this book reminded me of hijabs and Jewish beards, ways we identify with others and/or submit was talk of the queue, the hairstyle that Chinese men at this time were forced to wear in order to show their submission to the Qing Dynasty.  I remember the boys wanted to blend in more with their American peers as their Chinese robes and long braids were cause for teasing.  Their Chinese sponsor was able to get permission for them to wear western clothes, but they could not cut their hair. They were allowed to hide the braids in hats or under their clothes, however.

I like this book because I have also learned some about Confucian teachings. Did you realize before they were made to submit to Qing queues, most Han Chinese wore long hair because Confucius said we inherit our hair from our ancestors so we should not damage it?

Can you think of other ways (e.g., hairstyles, clothes, circumcision) that we show outward identification and/or submission?


Unknown said...

Very interesting!

I think jewelry is a common way to show devotion on a smaller and not quite so visible scale. Doesn't really set anyone apart from other people, but if they're looking and know the symbols or something it might be more obvious. I'm also reminded of tzitzit in Judaism, which I don't think is actually designed to show devotion to others but rather a reminder to the wearer, but it was one of the things people asked about a lot when I used to wear them. In fact, I got more comments and questions about that than the headcovering! I'm not sure if that's because headcoverings are more commonly seen and understood, or if people were just more timid about asking for fear of being seen as ignorant or intolerant. But either way, it was an interesting experience and definitely stood out to people!

Tattoos are also pretty common. My mom's church used to have a Christian biker group that came by occasionally (I think they were friends of the old youth pastor or something, I haven't seen them since he moved), and most of them had tattoos of a cross or Bible verses. I'm looking at getting a tattoo fairly soon, after I finish school and get a job to pay for it.

Susanne said...

Oh those are great examples! Thank you! On NCIS I always notice Ziva's star of David necklace! :D

Glad you are back! I see you have a new post. I'll try to read it in the morning. :)

Solomon2 said...

"there are Old Testament rules about how Israelite men were to keep their beards as well as the requirement for circumcision. "

I think the rule is no blade to cheek, but trimming the beard short is O.K. Meaning, in modern application, electric shavers are fine but blades are not.

Susanne said...

Thank you for that clarification, Solomon2!

Suroor said...

The Sikhs - they have the 5 ks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Five_Ks#The_five_items) I always find them very *expressive* :D

Susanne said...

Ohhhhh, how interesting! The underwear part reminds me of Mormons. :)

Susanne said...

Ohhhhh, how interesting! The underwear part reminds me of Mormons. :)

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