South African and Indian Wedding Rituals

Friday, December 14, 2012

Face painting and body painting has taken place in different cultures for thousands of years. The reasons (however, not limited to) vary from beautification, to religious ceremonies, to entertainment, to political affiliation, to camouflage, to sports and to statements about society. In some cultures face and body painting advocates a shared collective identity while others see “makeup” as a way to differentiate one from a group.

In the Indian culture, the beautification ritual for the bride is called the Pithi. A yellow paste made of chickpea flour, turmeric, rose water, and other ingredients is applied to the bride’s skin. The paste is supposed to even out the skin tone as well as make it glow. Some grooms have this paste applied as well.

After looking at these two images, what do you notice?  Independently and as a set, what do these images speak to you about culture, history, skin tone, sexuality, identity…and yourself?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

-Ross Oscar Knight

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The series was inspired by the contemporary images of 50 SHADES OF BLACK special contributor and fusion/destination wedding photographer Ross Oscar Knight.

*LOVE AND MARRIAGE:  A New Series by 50 SHADES OF BLACK - a project exploring sexuality and the complexity of skin tone in the shaping of identity.

  • Title Image 1: Union of South Africa
  • Date Created/Published: Aprl 1950
  • Photographer: Margaret Bourke-White
  • Repository: LIFE
  • Title Image 2: Indian Kathakali Dancer Cochin
  • Date Created/Published: December 2011
  • Photographer: Ross Oscar Knight