Friday, October 16, 2009

Ait Hamza illa taman ulinu ku yas

It's a good week. After a long crafty weekend with friends I finalized my letter, resume and references and on Wednesday applied to a number of farms in Massachusetts. Inshallah I'll hear back soon and begin the next round of the application process (don't worry, I'm still going to apply to some on the west coast as well). Thursday I helped Nat teach health lessons at the school in one of our further douars and then today, after months of wanting, I finally got my tattoo!

For those that don't know, ahdjamn (tattoos) have always been a big part of Amazigh (Berber) tradition, but, like weaving, it's a dying art. Nearly all the old women in my village have beautiful facial tattoos. (check this out to see pics of a couple ladies in my village, the one on the right is Khalti Kshu, one of my favorite women in the world!) Some even have tattoos all around the jaw line and on their chin. Many have them on their arms, hands and feet as well. So for a number of reasons, I have wanted a tattoo myself and have had a design picked for months. In the usual Moroccan fashion, the ordeal was made out to be so much scarier than it actually was. I was told all the tattooers had come to pass for no one wants them anymore (it doesn't exactly jive with Islam) and the women that did know were skittish and kept repeating, "idamn, idamin!" ("blood, blood!")

But even with the expectation of gushing rivers of blood, I still wanted it, and my host ma agreed to do it. So this afternoon, after a morning of sorting wheat, we went to the roof. My ma held a sewing needle, Nat had two fully charged cameras, my host niece and nephew had their energy and I had my wits, or most of them anyway. Despite my wannabe daredevil persona, it was relatively painless and took all of about 10 minutes. She then rubbed in some kind of green plant, then the charcoal, wrapped me up, warned me to keep it covered until it was healed (its harem for men to see a woman bleeding) and sent me on my way. I met up with another woman I know well on my way back and she added another green plant "for color." She warned me to not drink any milk until it healed or it would turn white and we wouldn't see it. How I love these people. In the following photo you can see our beautiful mountains, my adorable host nephew Morad and a bit of my ma's facial tattoo. Close-up's and video coming soon.

Ah, and the title of this blog is Ait Hamza is next to my heart every day. After shaking hands here, you bring your hand to your heart, a habit I really don't want to break upon return stateside. Due to the placement of my tattoo, I will be bringing Ait Hamza back to my heart every day, no matter how far away.


Debbie said...

Oh Honey! It's such a beautiful thing you have done! I love your story and the meaning and the way you have chosen to keep your experience with you in your heart. You are so incredibly amazing...I must have done something right in my life or a past one to get to be the mom of YOU!!!! What an honor. I can't wait to have you home. I am very empathetic to the women & children there who love you and will miss you so much. Hearts wide open all the way...Love you, Mom

Diane Kappa said...

You are amazing. I would love to meet you one day.