My momma is from a part of Jordan where women had a tradition of getting tattoos all over. After many years of searching, and finally help from my librarian wife, I found a book published by Jordan’s national press by Taha Habahbeh and Hana Sadiq, an Iraqi fashion designer living in Jordan. I don’t think either speaks English, and the book is only in Arabic, but the pictures are good, if grainy.
(None of these are my great-grandma. These are all pictures from the book. It has a lot more. Full scan here.)
So yeah, face tattoos. And while we’re on the subject of things you in the Middle East do without fully thinking through the consequences, here’s a political service announcement about US foreign policy: After an extended period of secularization through the mid-20th century, in which my mom wore miniskirts and short hair, fundamentalist Islam started its revival in Jordan in the 1980s. The reversal is almost entirely attributable to the fallout from USA’s hysterically anticommunist foreign policy. That violent silliness drove US funding and training of the Afghani groups that became Al Qaeda, the initiation of a nuclear program in Iran to keep it from leaning on Russia, the smuggling of arms to Iran to fund anti-Communist massacres in Nicaragua, and the destructive consequences of the US’s uncompromising support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. More recently, with US-caused conflicts in Iraq spreading war to Syria, Jordan continues to be the largest refugee camp in the world. Jordanians may always be a minority in their country.