This is where the fun really begins. There isn’t a culture on the planet that doesn’t use some form of adornment whether it be jewellery, scarring, tattoos or piercings. In some cultures these adornments are a rites of passage to womanhood or may reflect status within the society, they may attract or protect but for many of us, and especially ATS® dancers, we just love the display and the chance to dress up.
Jewellery – much of the jewellery we use comes from the tribal peoples of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India such as the Turkoman and Kuchi. There are also some stunning pieces from the Tuareg and Berbers of north Africa or the Miao from China
Bindis – In southern India, girls choose to wear a bindi, while in other parts of India it is the prerogative of the married woman. Today more and more women choose to wear one as a fashion item. Traditionally the bindi is a red or maroon spot centred between the eyebrows on the 6th chakra and has deep religious meaning so do wear your bindi with respect
Tattoos – the history of tattoo began over 5000 years ago and is as
diverse as the people who wear them. They can be permanent, semi permanent or even temporary. Tattoos are very popular within the ATS world. FatChanceBellyDance began in San Francisco as part of the alternative underground scene in the 1980’s and attracted other tattooed women. Today many women have found confidence through the dance and get tattoed as an affirmation of the beauty of their body.
Mehndi (Henna Tattoos) – Mehndi are temporary tattoos which uses henna to stain the skin. It is a ceremonial art form which originated in ancient India. Muslims also use it as an up coming of age. Intricate patterns of mehndi are typically applied to brides before wedding ceremonies. Henna is also common in some gulf states, especially Yemen, with the night before the wedding being dedicated to decorating the bride.
Please think carefully about the provenance of any jewellery items you might be tempted to buy. There have been many examples of grave robbing or cases where tribal women are selling off their ancestral inheritance at vastly underated values just to earn a little money. There are many replicas around which will look just as effective on stage but again it is worth checking the source to ensure fair trade for tribal people.