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Veiling

Post  Saesara on Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:39 pm

In Ancient times, women of most city-states wore a veil over their hair after they were married. Virgins in service of the Gods (the Pythia, the Vestal virgins) also wore a veil. Occasionally, certain Goddesses were pictured wearing a veil (Demeter, Hestia, Hera). Other Goddesses were never, in what I can find, depicted with a veil (Artemis, Hekate).

I’m just curious what everyone’s opinion is of the veil. Was it religious or cultural? Why were Goddess depicted with the veil sometimes, and other times not? Is there reason for a modern Hellenismos woman to veil her hair?
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Re: Veiling

Post  Erodius on Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:58 pm

Wearing a veil, in many cultures of Antiquity, and still many today, is associated with both marriage, adulthood, maturity and respectability for women. Never have I come across any indication from any culture that practices veiling that it is in any way considered to be oppressive. I have female Muslim friends who wear hijab who are fiercely proud of it and who do not take kindly to allegations that they are being 'oppressed'.

Symbolically, wearing some sort of a head covering, for men and women, I think is associated with sagacity and high standing, as well as respectability and wisdom, in that it is a symbol of the wearer's recognition that there is something (wisdom, God, truth, etc.) that is superior to their selves and of greater eminence than they.

Male Pythagorean sages would typically wear something we would probably call a turban, while in both Greek and Roman sacrificial praxis it is customary to place something on the head. For Romans, men and women would both cover their heads with a fold of their garment, while Greeks would wear crowns of olive or laurel sprigs. Orphics, likewise, of both sexes, wear a sort of headband during formal worship.

I personally think these are all variations on the same head-covering theme.

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Re: Veiling

Post  Callisto on Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:14 pm

Aphrodite's Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece.
by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones
Swansea: The Classical Press of Wales, 2003. Pp. x, 358. ISBN 0-9543845-3-9

Bryn Mawr review:

In what will become a standard work in the field of Greek dress, Llewellyn-Jones (hereafter L-J) offers the first full-length examination of the veiling of women in the ancient Greek world from c. 900 BCE to 200 CE. His study covers the entirety of the ancient Greek world and argues that veiling was routine for women of varying social strata, especially when they appeared in public or before unrelated males. L-J further concludes that female use of the veil, which he defines as "any garment that covers the head or the face" (p. 8 ), was part of a prevailing male ideology that endorsed female silence and invisibility. While L-J asserts that the women who veiled their heads subscribed to this male ideology, he argues that veiling did not simply entail female powerlessness in the face of male authority. To the contrary, veiling allowed women a certain degree of freedom of movement and provided them with opportunities to comment on their social standing, their sexuality, and their emotional state.
Chapter Three provides a detailed treatment of veil-styles adopted in the Greek world. In order to furnish his readers with clear descriptions of the veil-types he discusses, L-J provides an abundance of helpful line-drawings and figures of both classical representations of veiled women and illustrations of modern veil-types. L-J uses Greek words in his descriptions when this is possible but also makes good use of modern Arabic (and other) terms to provide a catalogue of ancient Greek veil-types. The iconographic evidence, much to my initial surprise, reveals that Greek women wore a variety of veils, including face veils which became common towards the end of the classical period.

Chapter 4 examines the iconography of veiling and the difficulties involved in decoding ancient representations of female dress. L-J first addresses the dichotomy between the literary evidence of veiling and artistic depictions of women uncovered and on display. Except in the case of the late fifth-century terracotta figurines of veiled women and the occasional representations of veiled women on vases discussed at the conclusion of the chapter, the veil appears to be absent in many female-related artistic compositions. L-J, however, convincingly shows that Greek vase-painters often created scenes that allude to the veil by means of a variety of elements, including female veiling gestures and the presence of garments such as the pharos or himation, which could be used as veils. As in the last chapter, L-J would have strengthened his argument by providing more detailed information on the frequency of such artistic devices, which would have enabled the reader to see exactly how common such allusions to the veil were, especially in comparison with scenes that completely omit the veil.

Full review can be read here.

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Re: Veiling

Post  Saesara on Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:35 am

While I'm excited there is a book on the topic I have to wonder...Aphrodite's Tortoise? Quite the name. Laughing

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Re: Veiling

Post  Callisto on Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:14 pm

Saesara wrote:While I'm excited there is a book on the topic I have to wonder...Aphrodite's Tortoise? Quite the name. Laughing

I was curious about the name too since I had never heard of tortoise being sacred to her. Best I can discern, it alludes to a statue of Aphrodite Ourania, which depicts the goddess draped instead of nude, with her foot resting atop of a tortoise:

http://en.academic.ru/pictures/enwiki/84/Turtle_Aphrodite_AO20126_mp3h9188.jpg

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Re: Veiling

Post  J_Agathokles on Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:50 am

I know someone in Alaska, a female devotee of Apollon, who regularly wears veils. She does it entirely on her own accord, and she finds it also practical. She wrote about it too: http://lykeiaofapollon.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/10-reasons-i-wear-a-veil/, and you can search for more articles concerning veiling on her blog too.

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