Friday, March 23, 2012

Male Corsets

Don't leave all the beauty for the women, because men can be beautiful too. Dinka men, in the Sudan wear beaded corset known as "malual". These corsets are an example of every day wear for the Dinka men. The corsets are meant to indicate a man's position in the tribe, through an age-set system. While at a young age, they are first sewn in place and not removed until the boy reaches a new age set. Each of the sets are color-coded, for example: red and blue indicates they are between 15 to 25 years old; yellow and blue marks that they are over thirty and ready for marriage. Not only do they indicate age, but also wealth and power in the tribe. The higher the height of the back, marks the more wealthier they are. Another indication of wealth would be the types of decorations used: polychrome glass beads from Europe, fur, sea shells (which are more expensive) signifying their wealth.
The men who wear the corsets are usually herders and portability is essential in that lifestyle, which means as little possessions (essentially clothing) as possible. Which, is one of the reasons the corsets came about. They would walk their cattle during the dry-season, and move their herds from permanent settlements on the high savanna down to the swamplands. Then, walk to the tributaries of the Nile River. This journey takes months and during hot and terrible conditions. Again, portability is key.

These corsets look uncomfortable and strange, however it is through practicality of their lifestyle and all around the cultural background that makes this tradition considered beautiful to those Dinka ladies. The more intricate, with powerful decorations and tall backs is what they believe is beautiful.

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