04 March 2011

Bedouin Tattoos| Discovering Our Mark

Photograph by Annie Griffiths Belt
Isn't she lovely? I've been browsing through the photos on the National Geographic website and stopped when I came across this one. I love how her eyes seem so shapely and young, but her skin is so worn and weathered. She seems like the kind of woman that would keep you laughing through the night if out in the open desert 'round a campire. You know, the brazen old woman that will say it like it is because she realizes life is just too short to beat around the bush.

There's something so honorable to me about nomadic peoples. I love the tribal face tattoos you find among Bedouin and Berber people. I once had tea with a Berber woman that had three lines tattooed down her chin...a permanent reminder of who she belongs to and the life her family lives.  I remember being jealous and thinking, "I wonder what my mark is?"

The more I think of it the more terrified of the truth I become. Is my mark the kind of cars my family drives? Is it the label on our clothing? Is it the size of our diamonds or the volume in our hair? My stomach turns and i think again. No. That may be for some, but not for us.

Sit down at my table and I will show you my mark. Let me hand you a fork so you can taste it. So often I get picked on for my love affair with food. But truth be known, it's just my way of holding on to my ancestry. It is my mark.

This Bedouin woman could tell you tales of her families travels across the sand. Caravaning goods from here to there. These stories would warm your heart and feed your soul. Sit down with me and I'll tell you about generations of boisterous women packed in the kitchen, ragging on their men, laughing at themselves, and cooking up a pot of something wholesome.

It's good to finally own your mark. What's yours?

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