Monday, April 19, 2010


What does this all have in common?
When I saw this picture of a plant my husband photographed at the Carmel mountain it immediately reminded me of something. I had seen those leaves before! And surely I remembered: it was at a Yemenite Wedding celebration, during which the bride is bedecked with jewelry and wears the traditional wedding costume of Yemenite Jews. The bride really was dressed lavishly, her fingers and wrists decorated with heavy silver rings and bracelets. The aunt of the groom who owned the entire outfit came to dress the bride for the event. The elaborate tall headdress in triangular shape was decorated with paper flowers and RUE leaves, which are believed to ward off evil and protect the bride from evil eye.  

But then I remembered something else: Among the childhood stories my husband had told me, there was one about growing butterflies. He would grow the Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly in boxes on RUE leaves.  

Rue, Pegam פיגם in Hebrew (Ruta chalepensis) is a shrub which can be found throughout Israel. Its small bluish leaves are shaped like an open hand, which is the 'chamsa' in Arabic, thus explaining the believe that the plant can be used against the evil eye. Rue was once even used as a spice, but because it is so bitter, it is much less used today. But it still appears in some liquors, the most known and famous liquor containing rue is an Italian brandy called 'grappa con ruta'.

By the way - the lovely bride is my daughter Carmen!

All photos by me Yael Eshkar.


Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Yael, she is so beautiful! This must have been an occassion to go down in history! I love her costume--weddings in Germany are so pale in comparison!!!

I love how you inform AND entertain!


glazedOver said...

I've always been mesmerized by Yemenite weddings (and secretly disappointed that I couldn't have had one...but SHHHH! Mum's the word! ;D)

I loved reading this post. Carmen looks so beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Carmen und Ilan: Ihr seht nicht nur hübsch sondern auch glücklich aus! freu mich :) drück euch alle, Judith.