Artifacts

In Swahili culture, there is a detectable dichotomy between men and women. Men are viewed as non-material creatures. They are considered to be more intelligent, more pure, and more controlled than women. Men are often associated with non-material culture and artifacts such as mosques, tombs, and personal remains. Women are often associated with material culture and artifacts such as porcelain, beads, pottery, and dwellings. These female-associated artifacts are more often than not heavily decorated with colors and patterns to protect against evil spirits, which women were considered to be more prone to because of their weakness in comparison to men (see Imported Artifacts). Women were thought of as polluted especially during menstrual cycles and during and after birth. Because they were seen as impure and prone to attracting evil spirits, most women only used items that were heavily decorated with color and symbolic patterns. This was especially important in preparation of food that was to be eaten by men (see Earthenware/Pottery).