what I read, and what I don’t…. mon, 30 april 2007: the sinful necktie
Baudelaire says in the early 20th century: “True modern artist is who succeeds in showing the epic side of daily life and to show how much poetic we are, even in the choice of neckties”.
On Sunday, 29 April 2007, I read that barbers in Iran now risk being put out of business by the police if they wait on customers wearing neckties or bow ties.
Rules against bad hijab had been focused on women’s headscarves and Islamic covering. Now, men are being warned not to wear short-sleeve shirts and boys with spiked hairstyles forcibly have had a stripe shaved down the middle of their head, the BBC said.
It is reported that this year the police has been unusually harsh about cautioning women over their dress, some have been obliged to sign statements that they will do better in the future, and some face court cases against them.
Though the authorities want coverage internally to scare women – they don’t want the story broadcast abroad…
One shopkeeper selling evening dresses told us the moral police had ordered him to saw off the breasts of his mannequins because they were too revealing.
The ban on neckties was detailed in a police notice sent to barber shops telling them they could be closed or even lose their licenses if they served customers with ties. In addition, the police have banned any form of makeup for men, which is sometimes used by grooms on their wedding day.
So what is this fuss about, a “fabric worn around the neck under the collar and tied in front, with the ends hanging down as a decoration”, as most dictionaries declare?
History of the Necktie
The earliest historical example dates ironically from ancient Egypt. The rectangular piece of cloth that was tied and hung down till the shoulders was a very important part of an Egyptian’s clothing because it was showing his social status. In China, all the statues around the grave of Emperor Shi Huang Ti bear a piece of cloth around their necks, which is considered an ancestor of the modern necktie. In art from the Roman Empire, men are also depicted bearing neckwear that much resembles the contemporary necktie.
The real expansion of neckties in Europe happened in 17th century. The necktie became a true mania when Louis XIV noted the band of fabric that Croatian soldiers were wearing around their necks . The etymological root of the word “necktie” comes from there (“Cravatte” – French) – from the Croatian word “Croatta”.
Symbol of individuality
In 1827, Honore de Balzac introduced for a first time the necktie into the literature with the treatise The Art to Bear a Necktie. Balzac described in it the aesthetical principles of bearing a necktie. Until the 19th century, European men were wearing neckties with various sizes and styles of tying according to the traditions of their native countries. They would probably look very strange today. The popular models of that time were wearing the sign of their country of origin, such as Russian, American, Irish and Italian neckties. In addition, they were tying styles that were symbolising interesting themes as Diplomacy, Loyalty, Travel, etc. The neckties were representing the individuality as well as the social status of the wearer through the different shapes and styles of tying. This still applies with the same force today.
The necktie accepted a more simple and universal shape in the 19th century. The custom was to wrap it once around the neck and to loop it into a knot. Between 1890 and 1900 the neckties had white, blue, red, yellow and green stripes on a black background. After the First World War, the black background was replaced with more vivid colours, which are still considered classic today. The modern necktie exists in its present shape since 1924. Before, they were tailored in the direction of cutting the cloth and the lining was made from various fabrics. In 1924, Jessie Langsdorf from New York designed a cloth for neckties, cut on the 45° bias and divided the necktie into three separate parts, which were then sewn up. He patented this innovation and later sold his invention all over the world.
Given a connotational meaning conferred to the fabric, as a symbol of western decadence , first of all the raid against it blends in a general crusade against “bad hijab,” which means clothing unfit for a Muslim. This attitude sees its role as restoring Islam from what is perceived to be polytheism and innovations, superstitions, deviances, heresies and idolatries.
There are many practices declared to be contrary to Islam, such as:
* Listening to certain types of music
* drawings of human beings or other living things which contain a soul
* Praying while visiting tombs (praying at Prophet Mohammed’s tomb is also considered polytheism)
* Blindly following any madhhabs (schools of thought) of Islamic jurisprudence in their legal expertise, “except for one who is under necessity and can not reach the Sunnah.
* Using non-literal explanations of God’s attributes exclusively in preference to literal explanations, e.g. rejecting that “hand of God” could mean the power or control of god, rather than hand.
* Celebrating the “mawlid” (birth of Prophet Muhammad)
* What they call, innovation (bid’ah) in matters of religion (e.g. new supplementary methods of worship or laws not sanctioned by God or his prophet.)
This thinking mainly overlaps with “Wahabism”, one of the most ultraconservative forms of Islam. Wahhabism (Arabic: الوهابية, Wahabism, Wahabbism) is an Islamic movement named after the scholar Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703–1792). Abdul Wahhab was influenced by the writings of scholars such as Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyya. This theology is the dominant form found in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, as well as some pockets of Somalia, Algeria and Mauritania.
The term “Wahhabi” (Wahhābīya) is rarely used by the people it is used to describe. The currently preferred term is “Salafism” from Salaf as-Salih, the “pious predecessors” as earlier propagated mainly by Ibn Taymiyya, his students Ibn Al Qayyim al-Jawziyya, and later by Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab and his followers.
Since Ahmadinejad’s win, all of a sudden Iran has become the country of praying old women in chador for the media? A few years before it was all about how young the population is and how this has affected the whole country in its values, behaviour and mood.
Nonetheless, despite the facts about raiding against neck ties, it is obviously something the media needs to publicise, together with copious evidence about the Iranian nuclear threat, as the US, Britain, the EU and others are trying to stop Iran from getting nuclear power.
It seems to me that this media presence of certain, well selected facts of an, admittedly, dark turn in Iranian societey, is far more likely to be about regional dominance. The US catastrophe in Iraq has handed the Iranians a fairly sizeable strategic gain on a plate, well fitting into a neo-conservative strategy of world dominance and control of energy ressources. The Iranian oil industry is crumbling primarily because of US sanctions. The amount of foreign direct investment needed to renew their infrastructure is just missing due to these sanctions.
What if all this is just another maneuver like Saddam’s WMD, intended to provide a rationale for starting a war with Iran, aimed at regime change.
Remember the “dead baby story”? Are we reading now a “persecuted tie story” as the luke warm preliminary stage of a heating campaign to “soften up” public opinion through the media in preparation for an armed intervention?
“Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”
— Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger, 1916, Ch.9