For those of the Islamic faith, Mahr has been a significant and important part of their community practices for a long time. The term Mahr is used in reference to the mandatory payments grooms or their fathers have to pay to a girl that is the bride prior to a marriage or after at an agreed upon amount and time after the commitment has been established. The Mahr has for the entire time since its conception been legal in the Islamic ways and laws where it was a safety measure for the wife should she be widowed or later should her husband or she decide to leave the marriage to guarantee her sustenance and financial independence. The artifact in question is an image depicting the twist this religious and legal act has taken in the Yemen society.
The image simply assessed is that of a noose of words with a warning take across it. However, the artifact in fact has a lot of symbolism and meaning to the audience who in this instance are the parents of the brides which it communicates through specifics. The noose which is made up of a repetitive and frequent pattern of the word DOWRY indirectly implies that the issue of dowry is one that is chocking the Yemen society and in particular the young men and the ladies not to mention the culture of the people. Previously, dowry requests were reasonable and had the brides interest at heart. However, the situation today is such that dowry has turned into an avenue of torment to the young men and their families as the brides family takes advantage to seek their wealth rather than the future well-being of the bride as intended. It shows how the practice is leading to detrimental situations such as spinsterhood as women are no longer getting married due to high costs beyond the means of the men and their families. Inevitably those determined end up in debt to pay the dowry charge which further serves to kill their growth potential and survival into their future for their extended family and their own that is their children and wife. The artifact also shows in clarity and detail how the trend is leading to the death of the Yemen culture as the high dowry prices can only be afforded by foreigners who take their girls and reform and conform them to their culture and that of their country. Moreover, the yellow strip across the image clearly stating STAY AWAY is also a significant part of the communication which warns the men and their families to keep of the issue of marriage due to high overpriced and expensive dowry charges. This further communicates the risks dowry poses enhancing cases of unwed girls and women, a breakdown of family and family values but also cultural erosion for Islam and the Yemen nation as a whole as since it is not a rich country, marriage becomes more of an impediment and luxury for the rich.
Another important aspect of the artifact that communicates multitudes to the audience are the colors in use in the image. The colors work together through their intensity and contrast to further push for the intended message to the audience. The frequent appearance of the word DOWRY in black enhances the aggression behind the depiction of the practice. Black in many instances has a negative connotation such as death, evil or mystery. In this artifact it shows death as shown by the repetitive words forming the shape of a hangmans noose. This communicates the fact that the dowry trends as they are in Yemen at the moment are equal to a death sentence on the young men, the women and the cultural and religious rite of passage that is marriage. It also symbolized an end to the continuity of the people and the community as without marriage there can be no procreation thus no generational progress. The primary cause of this trend and/ or death is dowry as the artifact indicates by the use of the color black and the repeated use of the word dowry. Another color use is yellow which in contrast with the other duller colors shows the audience that their attention should be to the area with the color in this instance the words STAY AWAY. The color in this artifact is used as a warning where the audience is warned against something which is dowry. Moreover, it helps highlight the most important element of the image design that is the risks and danger of dowry. Lastly the grey color is also used where its core purpose is to conform the other colors so the message is communicated more efficiently and immediately or directly. Its dull nature and appearance also shows the gloom or depression that is brought about by dowry practice to the parents and their children and society as a whole.
Overall, the image is pivotal in communicating the dire impact the practice of dowry is having to the parents who are the primary audience and to war them that a change is needed if not a stop to the practice as a whole for the consequences of its continued practice are grave stealing lives from the brides, the grooms, the families of the couple to be and the country as a whole.
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