The Poorer Classes Make Them Of Hollow Or Of Solid
Bamboo, But The Wealthier Of Ivory Or Tin.
The tin pelele is often
made in the form of a small dish.
The ivory one is not unlike a
napkin-ring. No woman ever appears in public without the pelele,
except in times of mourning for the dead. It is frightfully ugly to
see the upper lip projecting two inches beyond the tip of the nose.
When an old wearer of a hollow bamboo ring smiles, by the action of
the muscles of the cheeks, the ring and lip outside it are dragged
back and thrown above the eyebrows. The nose is seen through the
middle of the ring, amid the exposed teeth show how carefully they
have been chipped to look like those of a cat or crocodile. The
pelele of an old lady, Chikanda Kadze, a chieftainess, about twenty
miles north of Morambala, hung down below her chin, with, of course,
a piece of the upper lip around its border. The labial letters
cannot be properly pronounced, but the under lip has to do its best
for them, against the upper teeth and gum. Tell them it makes them
ugly; they had better throw it away; they reply, "Kodi! Really! it
is the fashion." How this hideous fashion originated is an enigma.
Can thick lips ever have been thought beautiful, and this mode of
artificial enlargement resorted to in consequence? The constant
twiddling of the pelele with the tongue by the younger women
suggested the irreverent idea that it might have been invented to
give safe employment to that little member.
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