> Karla's African Adventure in the 60's

« Back to Karla's African Adventure in the 60's

Cb) Karla in Libyan Wedding Garb

Cb) Karla in Libyan Wedding Garb

The Libyan government provided a teacher for our school to meet the requirement that we provide Arabic lessons for all of our students. Though this teacher was quite shy, we became friends and she brought her beautiful wedding garb for me to try on. She was the wife of a government official and could afford this beautiful and elaborate dress. The metallic threads woven into the fabrics are pure gold and silver, the arm cuffs and necklaces are also solid gold. Most of the items I am wearing are strips of this beautiful cloth - wrapped, draped, pleated, tied, and tucked on me, with a constructed vest put on over all at the end.

She generously gave me a similar set of materials made of lesser quality threads, but authentic nonetheless. My donated jewelry was much smaller and was tin washed in gold. I was invited to several weddings while there, and she wanted me to have appropriate attire. The weddings lasted several days, the men celebrating in one home, the women in another, and the couple getting together as the final act of the arrangement.

Interestingly enough, at the weddings I attended the bride did not wear this attire, choosing instead to wear a western style white wedding dress. That followed with the custom that the wedding was not really a celebration for the bride, but for the guests. While the guests sang and twirled about and danced and made their ethereal trilling sounds, the bride sat glumly on a "throne", watching but not participating. I rather imagined she was not really looking forward to the conclusion of the ceremony and the new life into which she was entering.

BTW: I only attended each wedding on one day and only for a couple of hours. I did, however, "enjoy" meals at which I was the guest of honor. That means I was given the sheep's eyeball from the communal food tray before everyone else scooped in with their hands.