Neh (Duhrawean Heritage Belt)
The Duhraw people who inhabit the steppes of Feyran, from the age of about 11 years old, wear a palm-wide fabric belt on which is embroidered the personal and household history of the wearer. The belts, called nehaw in the local language, are normally worn over one's seshwel, the white hooded robes that are the traditional Duhraw outerwear. When a person officially moves from one household to another, as part of an adoption, engagement or other social bond, they take off the belt of their past household and a new belt, combining the patterns of their past and future household, is created as part of the moving ritual. In the interim, a simple rope belt, about the thickness of a thumb, is worn to keep the seshwel closed in the interim. The embroidery on a neh is divided into three panels. The center panel depicts the personal history of the wearer, referencing their immediate family circumstances, their profession and any notable events from their life. The two side panels depict the household's history, detailing its origins, notable events of the past and notable members. Much of this is done through a set of conventionalized symbols referring to different households, areas, professions and historical persons. However, a large degree of personalization is also possible in the choice of colors and decorative non-symbolic elements. For persons still living in the household where they were born, the side panels will be identical but mirrored, and as such the presence of non-matching ends of a belt is an indicator that the person has officially moved into a different household. If a person moves households before receiving their first belt at the age of 11, they commonly wear the pattern of their current household on both ends of the belt, but may include references to their birth household in the central panel. Traditionally, writing is not embroidered on a neh. However, in some regions a birth year might be included on the central panel and in recent years adding the wearer's first name has become somewhat of a fad. Nehaw are considered a form of identification, as each belt is unique to its wearer. As such, it is illegal to wear another person's belt or for an outsider who has not been officially made part of a Duhraw household. Additionally, they may be used to identify bodies in cases where injury make other forms of identification difficult. The belts of the deceased are claimed by their households and usually displayed in their home.
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