Body Arts (everyday)
Bodily adornment is the most prominent type of art within [name] culture. While it is most intricate within ritual settings, the Elumi spare no expense in body art even in everyday settings. Elumi dress references lights, and it is the Elumi’s belief that the more one dresses to emulate the light, the more they can become like light. Ritualistically, body art is used to emulate the light that is so venerated by Elumi. The clothing, make-up, and other adornment worn during rituals emphasizes the beauty and importance of the Sun. Three major areas of body art within the Elumi society include: fashion, accessories, and makeup.
Clothing is relatively unisex. Due to the subtropical nature of the Zunamir, the Elumi wear light, breathable fabrics.
Production of Fabric: The Elumi have a particular plant, called the malvaceae, which is indigenous to its land. Because it grows so well in Zunamir, the Elumi only uses the malvaceae’s fibers to weave fabrics. This plant can grow quickly; it produces seedlings as quickly as a few days after planting. The seedling then matures in the course of seven days and produces a pod that contains malvaceae fibers. It is possible to harvest the malvaceae within two weeks after initial planting. In harvesting the malvaceae, the Elumi remove the part of the plant that can be woven into fabrics and take the remaining part of the plant to be composted into fertilizer. The malvaceae has unique properties and can grow best if it is grown in a fertilizer composed of malvaceae parts.
After the malvaceae is harvested, it is cleaned of excess dirt. Then, it is matted, and the fibers are used to weave into fabric. Because the parts of the plants that are harvested are naturally fibrous, it facilitates the weaving of the materials into fabric. The process of weaving the fabric is uniform within the Elumi society. Fabrics are woven through a loom, and each family is responsible for the production of enough fabric for its family. Within the family, usually the women are responsible for the weaving of the fabric, as the men are responsible for harvesting within the society and bring home to the family the harvested malvaceae.
The Elumi clothing consists of two types of garments for both men and women—flowing pants and a fitted shirt. The garments are meant to be simple and reflect the maximum amount of light. Shirts are individually wrapped based on the wearer's preference. Often, shirts are further adorned with extra metallic ribbons and metallic rings. Ornamentation is based on the wearer's preference, so long as the ornamentation can reflect more light. There is less emphasis on clothing, because clothing is not as helpful in reflecting light compared to shiny accessories. It is possible to adorn clothes with reflective stones within the fabric, but there is more emphasis on the production of jewelry as opposed to the production of clothes.
- Women and men have separate main accessories. Men wear necklaces, while women wear headdresses. The quantity of accessories is significant because a person with a large collection is considered very rich, both monetarily and spiritually. Bracelets are also woven based on individual preference. However, bracelets are secondary to the headresses in Elumi women and necklaces in Elumi men in terms of accessories.
- The most important and valuable accessory is the mirror. Mirrors are highly valued because they are optimal in reflecting light. Mirrors are primarily adorned in headdresses for women and necklaces for men. As an individual ages, he or she gains more mirrors, either through trade or heirlooms, thus building up his or her wealth. Mirrors are acquired through time and sometimes inherited by children from grandparents. In this way, they become family heirlooms and therefore even more precious. For women, their headdress grow in length, while for men, their amount of necklaces they may wear grows outward as men can wear each mirror he receives individually. Mirrors are typically spherical to represent the spherical shape of the light source.
- Additionally, metals can be used within accessories. Metals are typically obtained through trade. The most common metals are gold and silver. Copper is also used, although it is not considered as valuable as gold or silver as it does not reflect as much light. These metals are often shaped into circles but can be molded into interesting woven designs that can be implemented in the headdresses or necklaces. Metals are also signs of wealth, but it is not as important as the quantity of mirrors a person may have.
- For everyday use, the Elumi produce golden body paint made from finely ground substances. Many of the materials needed to produce the golden body paint are indigenous to the island. To produce the golden body paint, the Elumi utilize a ground base foundation paint and mix the paint with luminous minerals, such as gold or silver, to give the paint a shiny glow. Other less precious minerals, such as copper or iron, can be utilized in the production of the paint. The Elumi like to use neutral or metallic colors for pigments in their makeup; bright and dark colors are never used because of their inabilities to reflect light well. To make the paint easier to apply on the body, the Elumi add a type of rubbing oil to give the paint a liquid like consistency, easing up the application process.
- The golden paint is sometimes arranged in a five-ray pattern. The Elumi must apply the paint for each other, but the activity of body painting is separated by sex. Young children are all painted by their mothers, but when they reach marriage age, the boys must be join the men in the daily painting while the girls stay with the women. This activity of body painting provides unity within the egalitarian society and close kinship with others in the community.