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22 Feb 2021

The Circumcision Outfit

Regarding circumcision, the Turkish Cypriots follow the traditions prescribed by their religion. Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the human penis. Its origin is not known with certainty; the oldest documented case dates to ancient Egypt: the Egyptian Book of the Dead describes the sun god Ra as having circumcised himself. Miscellaneous theories proposed as to its origin include that it was a religious sacrifice or a rite of passage marking a boy's entrance into adulthood. Muslims view circumcision as a matter of cleanliness, purification and control over one's baser self. Not all Islamic communities agree on the age at which circumcision should be performed. It may be done from soon after birth up to about age 15; typically it is performed at around six to seven years of age.

In the circumcision ceremony, the boy is dressed in a beautiful costume made of silk or satin or ‘bindalli’, looking like a sultan. He wears a fancy hat with feathers and often holds a sceptre. He wears a glove on his left hand whereas his right hand is painted with verses from the Quran. Often a sash is worn across the chest with the word Mashallah. In older times, in villages, the boy was put on a horse or donkey and was paraded through the village or his neighbourhood followed by musicians, until he reached the final destination, usually a special barber who would perform the circumcision. When it was happening and it was indeed painful, the boys’ screams and pain were alleviated with lukum. After the ceremony, the child was taken back home, put to bed and showered with gifts. Today, modern surgical methods are used, usually at infancy.

The circumcision costume you see here comes from the CVAR collection.

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