Chador: Unveiling Myths

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Niddah
Niddah

Chador is a Persian word that quite literally translates to sheet or fabric. Eastern traditions use chador as a metaphor for the body as well. When understood as both a covering and body, we can say that chadors age or get soiled. They become stained, express emotions, and persistently mask and expose.

A Chador can be divested or shunned.

Contrary to popular belief, head coverings extend far beyond the Islamic tradition. Most religions and cultures prescribed veils since in addition to expressing submission, they ward off the “evil eye” of outsiders, commoners, and heretics. As such, veils have come to describe humility over time.

Sita's Laundry
Sita’s Laundry

Dress codes also unified the proselytizing communities of Abrahamic religions. But with unity came a powerful control-mechanism that followers have ritualized. Indeed, the manipulation of dress and fabric to control communities is a prevalent theme across cultures.

Undeniably, humanity’s pursuit of power, wealth and education are the crux of Darwinian theory. The pursuit of power has subordinated women of all traditions. Female chastity not only defined men’s status, but was also used to measure the health of family and society. By extension, many women have been deemed the property of their men.

March of the Virgins
March of the Virgins, Chador: Unveiling Myths, 2016

It is not surprising that women in many cultures have accepted a communal uniform. They have forsaken their nature and inclinations as a way to to maintain the honour of their men, family, or tribe. The weak and downtrodden have similarly endured these restrictions across time and culture.

The literate and illiterate recognize that chador directly conflicts with contemporary notions of individual rights, freedoms and spirituality. Yet contemporary debate often cites individual humility in defence of the chador, niqab or hijab, while deliberately brushing aside the role of patriarchal institutionalization.

Chador is a series that openly explores many concepts such as cloaking, wrapping, and bedecking within their broader context. Referencing stories of lore and mythology, the colourful works expose the indelicate chador and challenge the beholder to unravel the stories that lie beneath.

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