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The Comoros and the shiromani
May 16, 2018
The nation of Comoros extends over four tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, west of Madagascar. The Sultanate of Anjouan (one of the four islands) was founded around 1500, but Arabian merchants, who grew rich here through slavery and the spice trade, had already introduced Islam to the islands. French colonials took power in the late 19th century and the Comoros became independent in 1975 after a long series of dictatorships and coups. Today, 99 percent of the population follows an African-influenced form of folk Islam.
The first Sultan of Anjouan chose a red flag. Red was considered a sign of power and kingship. This color played a decisive role in the clothing of the women of that time. It was reserved for women of high rank. In public, women were to be veiled with a red cloth. In the 20th century, these red fabrics have taken on patterns and other colors, but red is still considered the classic symbol of Anjouani culture and is worn by all women.
Six squares of fabric are sewn together to make a modern shiromani. When worn, the seams of the fabric squares come together to form a large and distinctive cross on the body. The shiromani is worn on religious festivals, political occasions, weddings and in everyday life. An Anjouani woman can be recognized by her shiromani worldwide. It is symbolic of their culture and they wear it with pride.
Pray for them
- The Comoros have endured various rulers, from sultans, pirates and slave traders to colonial states. Pray that they would find freedom and life in Jesus.
- Pray especially for women, who wear the shiromanis, and who are a key to opening this culture to the gospel.
- Island family life is strongly characterized by jealousy. Pray for mutual trust and commitment in these large families, and for healthy models of family life.
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