Valentine’s Day is just one of many romantic traditions and customs celebrated across the world. At Kouamo we have scanned the planet to find our five favourites:
We are completely captivated by poetic clusters of ‘Love Locks’. Couples attach personalised padlocks to show their eternal love and then throw away the key. One of our collaborative designs for ABC Carpet & Home featured photography of Love Locks on Brooklyn Bridge in New York. This custom is also famously practiced in Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris (pictured) and destinations far and wide including: Ponte Milvio Bridge in Rome, Most Ljubavi in Serbia, Mount Huang in China, Malá Strana district in Prague and Butchers’ Bridge in Slovenia. In Seoul and Moscow artificial ‘Love Trees’ have even been erected to carry the weight of the padlocks.
Image: Courtesy of B Monginoux
We find the Guérewol Festival, among the Wodaabe Fula people of Niger, completely enchanting. This annual courtship event culminates in a vibrant dance called the ‘Yaake’. Men, colourfully painted and dressed in elaborate ornamentation, stand in a row - dancing and singing to attract a bride. The women then take their pick. The Guérewol is found wherever the Wodaabe travel in their transhumance cycle, which can can be as far afield as northern Cameroon and Nigeria.
Image: Courtesy of Wikipedia
If you are familiar with Kouamo designs, you will know that we are drawn to birds sitting in the branches and, in particular, pairs of lovebirds seated side by side. On 12 March it is ‘Gregorjevo’ in Slovenia - marking the start of spring and a day in which, according to Slovenian folk tradition, birds marry. The holiday is a celebration for lovers and bird motifs and heart-shaped honey biscuits are given to loved ones.
Image: Tonga Cushion (Detail) by Kouamo
We love studying the many patterns and symbols used by different cultures and these are often particularly beautiful when connected to romantic traditions. ‘Mehindi’ are intricate henna patterns painted onto the body of Hindu brides of India and neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Henna painting is also a custom for Swahili brides in Arabic and African communities. Empowering and sensual - the tattoos apparently signify the bride’s beauty and womanhood.
Image, Courtesy of Tela Chhe, Flickr
We are drawn to the stories told through the traditional craftsmanship of Welsh ‘Lovespoons’ - with linked symbols highlighting the intent and attributes of a suiter. The custom, which dates back to the seventeenth century, is to give a beautifully crafted Lovespoon, made from a single piece of wood, as a token of endearment. If love is unrequited the spoon is returned but when reciprocated the spoon is worn for all to see. A lovespoon can be given at any time, however 25 January marks the Welsh celebration for St. Dwynwen, considered the patron saint of lovers.Image Courtesy of The Welsh Lovespoon Centre