Tajikistan Boys' Hair Style: Solitary Boy



Figure 1.--I was out with a Tajik friend last week when she drew my attention to a boy child whose hair was very long at back. The young 8-year old boy in the photograph was playing a solitary game in the street when I came by on my way into the centre of Dushanbe.

I was out with a Tajik friend last week when she drew my attention to a boy child whose hair was very long at back. The young 8-year old boy in the photograph was playing a solitary game in the street when I came by on my way into the centre of Dushanbe. I had noticed that he had been allowed to grow his hair long at the back of his head. It was so long that it hung down his back. I wondered why this was so. Fortunately the friend I was with was a Tajik lady and she was able to explain why this was a special boy.

The child is very special. To show this his hair is allowed to grow long at the back of his head. He is the apple of his motherís eye and he is not given the freedom to wonder off with other boys and play their rough and tumble games. He is encouraged to stay near home and play, mostly solitary games but he does play with other children when they play near his home.

The boy is special because he is the only child the family has. They tried for a long time to have children. Unfortunately there was a miscarriage. Time and time again this happened. Once the mother realized she was pregnant again she knew it would be a difficult one. The family went to a holy shrine and prayed for a safe delivery. If the pregnancy went well then the family would return several years later to give thanks. In the meantime the child would be allowed to grow hair that was long. This would never be cut until the child was taken back to the shrine to participate in a thanks giving service. This is often on the childís 10th birthday.

During the service the boy will have his hair cut by the Imam. At the end of the service an animal is slaughtered. Traditionally the animal is either a cow or a sheep. The meat is given to the poor. It seems that for now the special child is watched carefully as he grows. The long hair is a symbol of strength. It will only be cut when the delicate child has grown strong and healthy. This will have occurred by the time he is ten. Until then his parents and the extended family in the neighbourhood will watch over him. In so doing his parents and the neighbours can ensure that no harm can come to the special one and that he is helped to grow up healthy and strong.

William Fergusson









HBC





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Created: September 15, 2003
Last updated: September 15, 2003