Painted Faces Of Kosovo Brides
Donje Ljubinje, an ethnically primarily Bosniak community of around 3,000 people in the Shar Mountains, lies on the border between Kosovo and North Macedonia. Due to emigration, the settlement has shrunk in population to about halve of what it was 20 years ago.
In the settlement, traditional weddings are source of great pride for the locals, as they represent the uniqueness of the people. Bosniaks see wedding ceremonies as opportunity for artistic expressions.
These opulent rites, which have a thousand-year history, are particularly well-known for the intricate face painting that protects the bride from hard luck or anything that will ruin the marriage.
The busiest months for weddings are July and August since many individuals with connections to the village come back then, and there is always a wedding every day, often twice a day.
You will be surprised when you attend a typical traditional wedding in that settlement, which is close to the city of Prizren, not only do locals assist brides to get dressed in traditional clothing for the customary wedding, women also do a special dance to commemorate the event.
A bride is dressed from head to toe in traditional attire, and her face is painted white with ornate crimson, blue, gold and silver dots and sprays, while an older woman paints the face of the bride as loud drum music plays during the ceremonial show.
The bride is unable to open her eyes, speak to anyone, eat or drink during the two hours that it takes to paint her face, while chefs prepare a feast for guests after butchering a large bull.
These face paints done on the bride are packed with significance. The red circles stand for fertility, the three golden circles represent the phases of life, and the red and blue spots will guarantee that the bride has a happy and healthy family.
Part of the expectations of the bride is having a cone placed on her head before she leaves home for the wedding. The cone is used to hold a red veil that covers her face. The bride is then shrouded, as she rides her horse through the village to the wedding. The bride’s face remains covered till the ceremony.
Another element of the wedding is that it is a two-day festival of song and dancing that upholds a long-standing heritage.
It is said that there is just one woman left who does the makeup. She is Sefitagic. She has painted many brides and just hopes that this tradition won’t die with her.
Nonetheless, the beautiful nature of the culture, this long-standing custom is currently in danger of extinction.
The number of individuals who desire this kind of conventional wedding is gradually declining. The newer generations don’t seem to be very interested in learning how to apply these detailed embellishments, which will help retain this intangible heritage of the community. Thus, this makes Sefitagic one of the last persons in the hamlet to do so.
The village’s centuries-old wedding traditions are now in risk of disappearing because nearly two-thirds of its citizens are currently forced to seek work elsewhere in Europe. The culture of the communities traditional wedding is becoming increasingly rare, same as the elaborate facial adornment that may soon be considered outdated.