This painting is about the lack of choice! It shows a lady wearing a mirrored headscarf. Each mirror on the scarf depicts another facet of her life. For example, near her mouth is a mirror with the depiction of a baby. This represents the fact that many young women in villages are married when they are still very young and are expected to bear a child immediately. They are not given any opportunity to delay a pregnancy. Often these young women have a child during the first 1 1/2 years of their marriage.
The next mirror shows an earthenware pot. It is usually the young woman’s responsibility to keep this full of drinking water. On the next mirror you can see a sickle, she will use it to cut grass fodder for the family’s cows. On another mirror you can see that she is making the flatbread called roti. This is also her responsibility.
On the next mirror is the head of a man, her husband, who she is supposed to look after. She washes his clothes, irons them, feeds him as well as the rest of his family and so much more. There is also a goat’s head on one of the mirrors, looking after the goat represents more work.
There is one mirror which shows a tree. She has to find and bring kindling so that she can make a fire to cook. The fire smokes a lot and creates much pollution within the home.
The young woman’s mouth is covered with a scarf, signifying that she is not allowed to speak her mind. Others decide everything for her during much of her life. Her parents decide who she marries and when. Her mother-in-law will decide her entire day for her, from morning until night. When and how to cook, look after the house, her in-laws, and children, and any animals that happen to be around.
It should be said that things have changed somewhat since this painting was made. Young women are often allowed to see their future partners before the marriage. Girls may refuse to marry into a family if the future partner does not have a decent home to live. In many cases, however, once the marriage has taken place the old customs still take over. Freedom of choice is a phrase that many young couples still do not know.