The Rastafari Wombman in taking up the livity, in many cases, enters a community where there are certain taboos in place for her free movement about the bredren in the home and gathering place (tabernacle, yard, church). In Rastafari livity there are taboos on purification, stemming from the Bible but which also were adopted because of the ingrained Jamaican taboo on menstrual blood and the presence of women in holy spaces. There are also taboos on her physical appearance, enforcing a certain degree of modesty. Traditionally, she is expected to carry herself in a manner that is unobtrusive on the Rasta man’s priestly way of life, and which does not cause contention or distraction amongst the bredren.
In the earliest generations of RasTafari when the Sistren started to emerge from the home more, they were encouraged to look royal in an Afrikan or Ethiopian manner, and to be natural in keeping with the dreadlock covenant: no toxic "fake-up," or make-up, toxic nail polish; and for some no jewellery either, or, no jewellery that was not Afrikan or handmade in the community. When looking at videos of Rastafari women in the past, such as Queen Omega Rising, we see evidence of this trend, that the outward appearance was Afrikan-based, modest and not overly adorned for many. Rasta women wore beaded chains and pins made of coconut and wood, and which were handmade in the community.
The Empress in being natural was urged to be inclined toward matters of the heart, finding righteousness and the glory therein; rather than focusing on the outward body and its beautification. Vanity was to be shunned, because in Babylon, women would destroy their natural bodies with chemicals and surgery to attain the white man’s ideal of beauty. They rejected their natural selves for an ideal that carried many forms of sin. First Samuel 16:7 reminds man and woman: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Because man looked at the outside first, a Sistren was encouraged not to give man too much to look at, because as an Ethiopian Queen she was worth more than her appearance, and spoken for by the Most High JAH and her King-Man. One could only truly know a Dawta through her speech and word sound.
It was important that the Dawta, in being “cultured” by the bredren, leave off as much of Babylon as she could and separate herself from the impure woemen who used their beauty for wickedness, who forgot JAH and who had no husband or raspect for him: “‘I will punish her For the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot,’ says the Lord” (Hosea 2:13 NKJV).
It was noted by Rita Marley and other women, that Bob Marley always made sure that women knew not to wear pants or make-up when with him or coming to his house on 56 Hope Road, which he had established as the RasTa camp in the “rich part of town.” Bob Marley as a Rasta Man, therefore, formally requested them to conform to the traditions of the bredren. The dress code of the first rising generations of RasTafari Wombman is shown by the I-Three as the movement grew between the 1970s and 80s.
The first Mansions of RasTafari took these principles from the Bible. Paul and Peter taught their Nazarene churches that man or woman were not to get caught up behind worldly things, but to be focused on the adorning of the spirit which was pure and everlasting, and which had life unlike idols and trinkets which were dead things. “Women professing godliness” and “holy women” were expected to focus more on moral character and service than on how they looked. Righteousness and Fruits of the Spirit were the values that should preoccupy their time and mind instead.
“…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10 NKJV).
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.” (1 Peter 3:3-6 NKJV).
Exposing the dreadlock crown and body is therefore an act not only defined by wearing short, revealing or explosive garments, but in excessively advertising one’s beauty by adornment with jewels, gold, precious gems, make-up, salon hairstyles and so on. By the tone of Paul and Peter, it can be concluded that to be a Nazarene wife, it was required that a woman focus on her internal beauty, not her external beauty which could cause distractions.
This tradition likely arose because of the peculiarity of their time. Those believers who had any riches, which would include expensive jewellery, contributed it to the forming of a church in their community, and therefore had to be willing to reject vanity and greed – to lose their life and gain back another one through their faith in founding the church of Eyesus Kristos. The apostles encouraged them in this change because it benefited the church. Likewise, RasTafari rejected all associations with Babylon in the earlier days of the Movement, and many sold their possessions in order to repatriate to Afrika. Jamaicans had to let go if they truly wanted Afrikan redemption.
The Bobo Shanty House/EABIC especially is conscious of the fact that the Lioness in her modesty requires no adornment of the body with trinkets (beyond handmade beaded necklaces and bracelets and guidance pins) or fake-up. She is called upon to not be a distraction to the Priesthood by making herself too noticeable or attractive. Such attention is for the King-Man to give and receive privately at home. The EABIC maintains that babies also do not need Babylonian vanities enforced upon them. Piercing a princess’ ears is an unnecessary, painful act which serves not the child’s eyes or ego; but the family’s wishes to adorn the child by their standards of satisfaction whereby they present the child to others. Earrings, anklets, toe, nose and navel rings, and belly chains are traditionally discouraged in the EABIC though today some Princesses can be seen wearing finger rings, chains and sometimes even pierce their ears – it truly depends on the camp and how it is run, or whether a dawta is a part of an official camp.
One foundation Scripture which is used by this RasTafari Priesthood to abandon all forms of adornment is Isaiah 3, where the Prophet reprimands the Daughters of Zion living in Jerusalem or Judah for their vanity and beguiling ways, as such went hand in hand with their carnal and spiritual sins. The Daughters of Zion would lose their confidence in their adornments and pretty garments, in their haughty and seductive ways. Isaiah 3: 16-26 NKJV specifies that a woeman would lose the pleasure of everything she owns: anklets, scarves, pendants (crescent moon) and charms, bracelets, veils, headdresses, leg ornaments, perfume boxes, rings, nose jewels, festal apparel, mantles, outer garments, purses, mirrors, fine linen, turbans/hats, veils and robes. All vanities, all pride in self, all adornment and fetishes would be taken away. This is because she would lose her home and become a slave or a widow or motherless, she would lose everything because of her sins through these things (fornication, adultery, idolatry). It also can be interpreted to show that she would lose her confidence in using these things again because of the tribulation that could return with them.
Moreover the Lord says: “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, And walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, Walking and mincing as they go, Making a jingling with their feet, Therefore the Lord will strike with a scab, the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, And the Lord will uncover their secret parts.” In that day the Lord will take away the finery: The jingling anklets, the scarves, and the crescents; The pendants, the bracelets, and the veils; The headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands; The perfume boxes, the charms, and the rings; The nose jewels, the festal apparel, and the mantles; The outer garments, the purses, and the mirrors; The fine linen, the turbans, and the robes. And so it shall be: Instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench; Instead of a sash, a rope; Instead of well-set hair, baldness; Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth; And branding instead of beauty. Your men shall fall by the sword, And your mighty in the war. Her gates shall lament and mourn, And she being desolate shall sit on the ground. (Isaiah 3:16-26)
Ezekiel 16 is another chapter that can be married to Isaiah 3, and it must be noted that in this chapter, adornment is used as a way of illustrating how beautiful Israel was to Yahweh as his creation – he adorned Israel with jewels and fine garments, and made her beautiful. But then Israel defiled herself by taking other gods and using the riches given by Yahweh, to adorn and worship idols. One could argue therefore, that adornment is acceptable once the laws of Yahweh are not defiled in any form or fashion.
Moving past jewellery, EABIC’s forbidden embellishments also include wearing nail polish and make-up, especially lip and eye make-up. Eye-makeup is considered an act of beguilement and nothing more - it creates a false representation. There is no need for a woman to colour her eyes or her lips for that matter - other than to intentionally attract and coerce men, or to compete with and arrogantly set herself above her fellow female counterparts. An EABIC Dawta should strive to do none of the above by the laws of the Church of Black Redemption.
In regard to make-up wearing in the Biblical days, it was a common thing for Khamite and Mesopotamian women to paint their eyes black, red, yellow and green with kohl, and it was something they did to protect their eyes in harsh desert environments, but also for their gods, linked to fertility or sexual energy. The wearing of eye make-up and of provocative garments were traditions the Israelite daughters adopted in Canaan along with idolatry, because the sons of Abraham married foreign daughters (idols and their maidservants, concubines, princesses and women of spoil). From the time of Rebekah and Esau, the idolatrous daughters of the land caused grief to the wives of the Patriarchs. The foreign wives were highly associated with women of ill-repute because of their worship of idols and the sins committed in doing so.
Jezebel is used as an example: “Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window” (2 Kings 9:30). She had adorned herself as high priestess in preparation to do battle against Yahweh in the name of Baal. It followed that church doctrine dictated those who over-embellished outside the law and traditions of Moses in these ways, were woemen who transgressed the Covenant of Abraham with idolatry. They ultimately had bad intentions against fellow man and woman, and could not be trusted.
“For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house. “Furthermore you sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and there they came. And you washed yourself for them, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments. Thus I will cause lewdness to cease from the land, that all women may be taught not to practice your lewdness.” (Ezekiel 23:39-40, 48 NKJV).
“Though you clothe yourself with crimson, Though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, Though you enlarge your eyes with paint, In vain you will make yourself fair. Your lovers will despise you; They will seek your life.” (Jeremiah 4:30 NKJV)
"O my son! let not a silly woman deceive thee with her speech, lest thou die the most miserable of deaths, and she entangle thee in the net till thou art ensnared. O my son! desire not a woman bedizened with dress and with ointments, who is despicable and silly in her soul. Woe o thee if thou bestow on her anything that is thine, or commit to her what is in thine hand and she entice thee into sin, and God be wroth with thee." (The Story of Ahikar, Chapter 2:8-9)
To dress like one of these woemen therefore would not be favourable if one considered this point of view of the Hebrews.
There is also a similar kind of issue with perfumes, as perfumes were popularly used for the purpose of beguiling or to attract the attention of men. Even Ruth was told by Naomi to prepare herself to gain a blessing from Boaz – she had to present herself and wait for him to give favour (Ruth 3:3).
In the EABIC tabernacle, RasTafari Empresses are generally discouraged from wearing scents that are too strong or from wearing too much at once so as to keep unlawful sexual attraction at bay among the priesthood. The Taba is not the place for strong scents which affect the concentration, or even senses of others, who only wish to commune and worship. On a practical level, if every Sistren arrived heavily cloaked in a different scent, the entire Taba would stink and heat up by the time Sacrament starts to rise and spread.
As the final Scriptural word on the issue of embellishment, Enoch recorded in His Book that adorning the body was something never done in the earth, before man and woman were defiled by the angels who lusted after flesh. Adornment was therefore not of First Creation – “Adam and Eve” didn’t even have clothing initially, right? The Watchers brought the knowledge of developing creativity through the environment, causing humanity to lock itself into a cycle of vanity, which in many instances harms the environment and man (mining, deforestation, toxicity of chemicals used to create products, iniquity). Enoch maintained that adornment led people astray, as this embellishment heightened sexual attraction and carnal vibrations.
And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony [toxic chemical element], and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. (Book of Enoch Chapter 8:1-3).
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Because these stipulations against adornment exist, for those who are strong enforcers of Hebrew Law, the issue of adornment is one that always comes up in defining what is authentic Rasta Woman Livity. Eventually however, or rather, realistically, each decides her pace for adornment, however it may be. Some Dawtas wear earrings, and pierce their daughters’ ears; some wear them but not their daughters, and others do not at all. Some will stress the importance of wearing earrings only on special occasions, rather than as a daily habit. Some choose only clip-ons so as to avoid piercing, or pierce only one hole in each ear at a time, as compromises.
The Nyahbinghi Guidelines also say that piercing is forbidden. Some will argue that Empress Menen wore jewellery and pierced earrings. It was her right as a Queen, and one could certainly never claim that she was immoral or lacking in her devotion to the church and Christian way of life. Others may even point out that Rasta men make all these demands on modesty for a woman, but it is not what they are actually attracted to, they often form relationships and have children with women who proudly wear revealing garments or adorn heavily - free from biblical expectations.
Adornment can be debated, but there truly is no right or wrong, only personal preference. But one thing that stands, is that a natural woman who has humbled to JAH, is beautiful in her movement, speech and vibrant body regardless of how she looks. It is more important for every woman to develop self-love and peace within her own body, to see herself as beautiful, special and sacred as a blank canvas – the way in which she entered this world. She shouldn’t depend on her possessions and looks to gain happiness or sustenance – she should depend only on JAH and the natural talents given to her for her own survival and contribution to the world.
A RasTa Wombman must be comfortable in her own skin the way JAH made it. Modern beautification means less natural but for the Dawta it is the opposite. Her desire to adorn does not define or balance out who she is. Neither is her self-confidence so poor that she destroys herself to be beautiful. She shouldn’t depend on adornments or use her body to gain anything, or develop obsessions over such. Adornments are secondary parts of her wardrobe which reflect her culture and faith; and are not the most attractive or noticeable things about her. Her reputation and positive vibes weigh more than her beauty. Her good words and works are becoming too.
Judging from the overall general culture within RasTafari, many Sistren continue to wear their earrings, anklets and so on, and do not consider it to be something that should be frowned upon because it is part of the Afrikan identity in general. Afrikans created fashion, make-up and jewellery! Wearing earrings is not an offensive act if a Sistren is virtuous in her speech, thoughts and mannerisms or actions. The only abuse in wearing earrings or pendants would be in unlawful imagery like charms depicting white idols, guns, alcohol glasses, profanity, and in wearing them at inappropriate times like during Taba worship or periods of Fast. While gathering amongst other Rastafari, it is also important that she is mindful to wear modest attire so that she can never be accused to bringing vulgarity in the high places of Jah Rastafari.
Ideally, though the elder guidelines of RasTafari do not support the adornment of the Sistren, today it is clear that a Dawta may adorn herself once she carries a raspectful tone and manner. Many Sistren positively or royally wear RasTafari or indigenous Afrikan handmade and organic jewellery and adorn themselves in Afrocentric things. They see their adornments as symbols of their livity, faith and heritage. Accessories are often made of wood, seeds and wooden beads, cowrie shells, hemp, coconut shell, leather, crochet and African-printed fabrics.
Many Sistren adorn themselves with such natural or organic materials because they feel a close connection to the earth and draw their Goddess strength and confidence from Mother Nature. Many aim to stay away from too many precious metals and diamonds which represent “blood diamonds,” and other expensive Babylonian styled bling and trinkets. Some don’t wear any adornments beyond a guidance-badge with a picture of the I-Head JAH RasTafari or Marcus Garvey, or Prince Emmanuel on it.
Overall, the way that a RasTafari Daughter adorns herself is heavily founded upon her Afrikan heritage. Gold and silver accessories when worn, often have RasTafari, Akan or Ethiopian Orthodox symbols on them such as the cross, maskel, ankh, Africa or Ethiopia map, Star of David, adinkra and so on. These were emblems also worn by JAH RasTafari King Alpha and Queen Omega. They represented Their faith on Their clothing as do RasTafari, through royal embellishment.
And in this frame of mind, it can be overstood that for RasTafari Sistren, wearing embellishments are more so statements of purpose and identity; affirmations of a reclaimed Afrikan parentage or heritage. Many Sistren adorn themselves in the colours of Ethiopia and with pictures of the I-Head because they wish to display their strength, Iritual awakening and the revolution taking place against wickedness and the deceptions of White Supremacy. Embellishment of the garments and body adds the touch of Black Nationhood, the Mother Continent tradition. Truly a RasTafari Lioness embellishes herself in the same context as an Ethiopian wife on the battlefield. She wants the world and enemy to know where her allegiance lies!
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In conclusion, it cannot be discounted that while the Sistren has the freedom to dress as she sees fit, the traditions of the RasTafari wife are also heavily influenced by the King-Dreads. The King-Man can request for his Queen not to eat flesh or drink alcohol, not to wear earrings or pants or revealing clothing or make-up, and to cover her dread in public - from the very beginning of their courtship. Or he can at least ask her to cut-down on her old habits. In the time that he “cultures” her in RasTafari, she will be presented with images of other wombman in the faith, with pictures of Queen Omega Empress Menen Asfaw Herself, and come to realize that unlike what is taught by Babylon, her self-image is most telling of her trod in RasTafari – which from Inception was totally R and Ital.
The Afrikan Queen is to be adorned and glorified in her royalty, but her beauty is to be more than skin-deep or she will be labelled a "Jezebel.” In today’s society, Babylon mainstream is a system of many gods and wicked men that enslave women in many ways, and they follow without realizing the corruption within. Though a RasTa Daughter may hold on to some old ways in how she dresses, she is expected to still be wary of her actions and steps, and to purposely strive to conquer any Babylonian association, vanity and oppression.
On the other hand, a Virtuous Empress choosing to keep wearing acrylic nails, make-up or earrings does not mean that she is weak for carnal sin and will act as a shame to herself or husband – she can look lovely and be the best Sistren, mother and queen/wife (helper and leader) in her community. The King-Man’s acceptance or consent of this is because he is alongside his Queen – her adornment is his adornment, and even his own vanity because she is his.
Generally, to leave off embellishments is a huge challenge and sacrifice which may be hard for Sistren to make every day. Though embellishment or adornment is not strictly forbidden due to “Mansion” distinctions, it is still warranted that the RasTafari Wombman should continually strive throughout her journey to overcome her own issues of vanity in all forms. She must not depend on things to feel confident or worthy of love and attention. Whether or not she wears jewellery or cosmetics or nail polish; her aim is to ensure that she shines from within through her words, actions and relationships rather than in the things she owns or wears.
She is not striving to be most beautiful on the outside, but most beautiful, loving, kind and nurturing from the inside - achieving this peace and love within for her own body, mind and Irit naturally manifests external vibrations of true beauty and inspiring, healing power. These are the qualities that define the RasTafari Lioness and Empress apart from her pan-African warrior strength and queenly ways. It is best that she find and place all her value and wealth within her personality or morality rather than in her jewellery and clothing and lusts thereof. To reiterate, her adornments are secondary to what’s in her heart and mind. In order to know herself, she must strip herself of all that she is and build from there.
Character of the New [Womb]Man
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Krist forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Krist dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord [JAH RasTafari], giving thanks to God the Father through [HIM]. (Colossians 3: 12-17 NKJV)
RasTafari Guide and Itect
(This post was has been updated 24/9/2021)