Thursday, March 17

The Thigh's The Thing

In Zambia, women never show their thighs. Zambians believe that thighs drive a man wild. A young woman can have her boobs hanging out of her shirt -- no problem -- but if her skirt snags and reveals some thigh: watch out!

Consequently, the chitenge is one of the most important items in the home of a rural Zambian. Essentially, a chitenge is a 3 foot by 6 foot piece of cloth that women wrap around their skirts to ensure that no thigh is exposed.

Of course, considering the poverty of many Zambians, chitenges serve many purposes. Jamie Baldwin is a BBC reporter who volunteered in Zambia for a while. He discusses several important uses for the chitenge. To his thoughtful list, I might add:
  1. towel (beach or bath)
  2. wall-/window-covering
  3. sun visor/impromptu roof when traveling in a vehicle
  4. bedspread/pillow
  5. tablecloth
Jamie has several interesting posts about Zambia, including one about international NGOs and one where he puts a face on HIV/AIDS.