Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Guess The Country

Over at The View From Cullingworth, Simon Cooke has a quote from a 17th Century English sailor:

"The men that are married are given much to jealousy, and will not permit any stranger to come where their wives are, much less to see them, but will keep them out of sight as much as they possibly can...all their women, both married and unmarried, go with a black veil over their heads and reaching down to their legs, all being covered except their eyes."
Can you guess where the sailor was visiting? If not, have a guess at the predominant religion in the country.

He wasn't at some port in the Ottoman Empire or on the Barbary Coast but was instead visiting Catholic Portugal. It might reflect the Moorish influence in Portugal although it must have been a few centuries since Islam held sway in the country.

It does show that while the burqa is now an Islamic garb in the past, other cultures have been equally repressive. It also shows that even in the 17th century the English regarded it as primitive and evidence of the failings of the menfolk that enforce it.

Also 17th century sailors are more insightful about the motives behind face covering garments than most modern politicians, academics and pundits- it is due to extreme sexual jealousy on the part of the menfolk.

What causes some cultures to foster such extreme sexual jealousy is the next obvious question- I don't know the answer but suspect it has something to do with clannishness and marriage structure.

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