Beauty and the East
A Book of Oriental Body Care
7 1/4” x 9 5/8” • 160 pages • full-color illus.
ISBN 9781566563871 • paperback • $17.95 •
This fascinating story of body care and the creation of sensual ambiance focuses on customs practiced in the Middle East, Africa, and India and takes a humorous look at the often converse attitudes toward the body prevailing in the West.
Ancient books of the East are full of the language of and lore of sensuality. They praise women's beauty and speak with a bawdy humor about the erotic arts, which included poetry, dance and rituals of beautification. In the Middle East, for example, a visit to the steam baths took the entire day and was used as an excuse for festivities, with female dancers and musicians to entertain.
Elaborate rituals of beauty and the creation of a sensual environment are by no means a thing of the past. Today, in the most modest homes, incense is still burned to create a soothing atmosphere and guests' hands are sprinkled with rosewater as a sign of welcome. The therapeutic use of essential oils, massage, henna for the hair, kohl for the eyes are some of the customs enjoying increased popularity in the West. Yet there are many other body care methods using natural substances which have great appeal today—especially when many women are abandoning synthetic and expensive products in favor of effective alternatives that do not harm the environment.
A potpourri of practical information and delightful stories, the book includes extracts from poetry and literature and is illustrated throughout with original sketches and line drawings.
Wendy Buonaventura is a dancer and writer. She is the author of the highly acclaimed Serpent of the Nile: Women and Dance in the Arab World.
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