May 2, 2016

Desirable and undesirable girl

 Under the influence of changing living conditions, some social norms changed as well, especially ones closely tied to the appearance and behaviour of women in the Bosnian society. But, some measurements despite this stayed with us to this day. In the past, for example, women with hairy feet were considered to be personification of passion and eroticism, but people never tolerated hair on women's face, especially above the lips, and such women were usually called "masculine" and sometimes witches.

The greatest desire of every Bosnian girl was to get married "on time" and she was aware that this desire greatly depended on her looks but also her behaviour. Many of them, in the past, intending to get married pretended to be different than they actually are, that they are quick and hardworking, among the folk there was the following statement: "While she is still trying to get married in her feet air and in her mouth a cramp (quiet), and when she gets married, in her feet a cramp and in her mouth air".

Of course, though people expected from the bride to know "her place inside the home", people always harboured caution towards quiet people, since the lack of social intelligence was sharply opposed with traditional Bosnian hospitality and sociability. ("Who treats others nicely, God will be nice towards them", "Tongue is man's best but also worst enemy"). But, for a girl or daughter in law it wasn't advisable to be to open and communicative, especially in giving comments, and it was always advised that it is better for a woman to drink some water and hold it in her mouth as long as she can when she wanted to say something bad, so that she doesn't talk as much. "Since she won't get a headache from staying quiet". But in rural areas a temperament and angry girl, though having a nasty temper, she was considered to be hard working and therefore desirable for marriage. ("Angry mare spin the spinner").

Everything that was called sojli in folk description about women or generally some person was a guarantee that such a woman or man was from a good family or genes. Upbringing but also behaviour of parents, especially the mother, was one of the key indicators of how the daughter will turn out. People claimed that in the past if the mother was good, that the girl will be good too. However, there are different opinions which are demonstrated by various folk sayings such as this one: "From a good mare one can get a bad foal, and from a bad mare a good foal". It is considered that from bad parents we often get good children, since in poverty and inharmonious family relationships children mature sooner and understand life more seriously than their peers which are pampered by their parents and which take care of all their needs.
When choosing a future spouse for their son, the parents paid attention to numerous physical but also character features in a girl. Of course, they didn't lose sight of knowledge about material or property condition of her family. But, what is certainly more interesting than the common search for a suitable bride is the folk understanding of the female beauty, which is best witnessed by the following rulebook:    


Among the folk it was considered that black, so called Illyrian, hair, long and nicely combed, reveals that the owner is of a commendable nature. If she has blond (yellow) hair , she is hard working but angry, just like a person, male or female, with curly hair. Temperamental persons also, according to folk belief, are born on Tuesdays. Short hair which was never desirable among women, no matter how beautiful the woman was, was considered to be not worthy of marrying a son from a better family. Such a woman was derogatorily called "masculine".


A woman with a broad forehead was considered to be intelligent, according to folk judgement, wise and from a good family.


Thin beautiful dark eyebrows represent good genes and upbringing, while connected (merged) eyebrows reveal that the girl is angry and unhappy, and she was undesirable for marriage. Sparse eyebrows are a sign that the girl is good and that she will give birth to male children, and if her eyebrows are thick that she will give birth to female children "since she had better gusto".


Black eyes are beautiful, green ugly, they’re often considered to be spellbound, blue indicate a happy and emotional nature while a girl with multicolour i.e. brown eyes indicates a fiery (temperamental) nature, being spoiled and even immorality. A scale was made based on the eye colour; the one with dark eyes is the most desirable for marriage, a girl with brown eyes falls into the middle category while the one with green eyes belongs to the last category. For a girl with green eyes it was claimed that she couldn’t have children. “Girl with black and brown eyes looks once at her boyfriend and twice in front of her, and a girl with green or multicolour eyes twice into her boyfriend and once in front of her.”


Among the Bosnian folk it was believed about the nose that Allah had the most difficulty in creating it, creating the first people and the greatest sin is to make fun of someone’s nose. Similarly, among the folk you can often hear – the size of the nose the size of pride! For a girl with a bog nose and wide nostrils, the people believed that she wasn’t intelligent enough. A woman which has a thin nose is of a mild nature while the one which has small nose is very angry.


Big mouth are ugly and undesirable, and they utter the most stupidity while a small mouth can sing nicely, they’re visually appealing and are a sign that the girl is from a good family. Thin lips reveal a woman which is picky when it comes to food, and she often has a high opinion of herself. They’re usually stubborn. Thick lips, especially in women, are considered to be ugly and it is still abusively said about such a person that it “has a mouth like a mare’s vagina!” Actually, in descriptions, people don’t use the term mouth but gob, which is a term used for an animal’s mouth, especially horse’s mouth. A girl with thick lips is reckless, people say “her gob is like slippers!” But, despite this it was believed if the girl’s lips are thick that she will be fertile i.e. happy with children, while if her lips are thin it reveals an issue in virility, tendency for miscarriage or generally unhappiness.


Once rare and small teeth in a girl were considered to be beautiful while large teeth were considered as vulgar. A girl which has a gap between her front teeth was prone to getting fat.


Small ears are a sign of luck and an indicator that the girl comes from a good family. If they’re connected and large they’re unlucky while protruding ears are a big shame for a girl.


Round small chin is sojli, while a chin with a line, divided into two is ugly and unlucky.


Round, white and rosy face is beautiful, long shape is undesirable among women “since she ages quickly” as soon as she gives birth. Holes in cheeks, so called smijavica, were considered to be a sign of outstanding beauty, this is why mothers used to press their newborn’s cheeks. Warts on the face were considered to be a sign of bad luck.


Long and thin neck is beautiful, worthy of jewellery, a short neck was not seen as beautiful.


Large chest in a woman represented a good breed (genes) and represented an ideal predisposition for her to become a good mother and childbearing woman. Small and firm chest were considered to be beautiful, limp breasts are slushy; wide breasts are sojli while connected are no good.


Thin long fingers are sojli, short fingers and fat hands are not.


A thin girl, with a high waist is sojli, and if she is fat she is lazy. If she doesn’t have an inch from the webbing to the armpit, don’t marry her, she is unlucky and not a housewife.


Large hips are present in a lazy girl “good for cargo”, and middle and round ones are a feature of a skilful and sojli girl.


Don’t take a flatfooted girl home, she is unlucky. However, we should stress that among the Bosnian people, flatfooted people are considered to be unlucky, and it is a bad omen to meet such a person. A girl tall on her feet, one with long legs, is crazy, the one with fat feet is slow, people usually say about her: “she is dragging them as if she were dragging logs” – while a woman with thin legs is as nimble as a fairy. Because of such a belief, among the Bosnian people, the following saying took root: “don’t run from a thin horned cow nor a thin legged woman!”