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Visual markers of marital status: Wikis


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Humans use clothing, hairstyle, accessories, jewelry, tattoos, and other bodily adornments as indicators of social and marital status. Visual markers of marital status are particularly important because they indicate that a person may not be approached for flirtation, courtship or sex. In some cultures, married people enjoy special privileges or are addressed differently by members of the community.

Marital status markers are usually gender-specific.



Male marital status markers are usually less elaborate than female marital status markers. In many cultures, they may be non-existent.



In many Western countries, some married men wear a wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand. In parts of Europe, especially in German-speaking regions, as well as Greece, Russia, Poland, Norway, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia, the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand. In modern times, the material for wedding rings has become less strictly defined, and includes gold, white gold, red gold, tungsten carbide, platinum, and titanium.

Manual laborers sometimes use rings from inexpensive or durable materials like tungsten or an ink tattoo while working to avoid damage to the ring or the possibility of injury.


Among the Amish and Hutterite communities of Canada and the United States, only married men are entitled to wear beards. Unmarried men must shave.[1][2]

Prayer Shawl

In some Ashkenazi Jewish communities, men wear a prayer sheet, known as a "tallit" or "tallis," only after marriage. It is customary for the father of the bride to present the groom with a tallit as a wedding present.

In other Jewish communities, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, all males wear the "tallis", but only the married ones wear it over their heads.



  • Engagement ring - In many Western cultures, a proposal of marriage is traditionally accompanied by the gift of a ring. The man proposes and offers the ring; if the woman accepts this proposal of marriage, she will wear the ring, showing she is no longer available for courtship. In British-American tradition, diamond rings are the most popular type of engagement ring. The engagement ring is usually worn on the left ring finger (sometimes this ring is switched from the left to the right hand as part of the wedding ceremony).
  • Wedding ring - Many Western wedding ceremonies include the exchange of a wedding ring or rings. A common custom is for the groom to place a ring on the bride's finger and say, "With this ring I thee wed." Sometimes both bride and groom present each other with rings and repeat either these or similar words. After the ceremony, the rings are worn throughout the marriage. In the event of divorce, the couple usually removes their rings; but some widows continue to wear their wedding ring, sometimes switching it to the right hand, while others do not. In Jewish tradition, the wedding ring must be a plain band, without gemstones.
  • Mangalsutra - In many Hindu wedding ceremonies, the groom gives the bride a gold pendant or necklace incorporating black beads or black string. This is called a mangal-sutra. It not only proclaims a woman's married state, it is believed by many to exercise a protective influence over the husband. That is, a wife's love and concern, as shown by her donning of the mangal-sutra, is magically helpful to the husband. This resembles the karwa-chauth celebration, in which a wife fasts and prays for her husband's welfare.
  • Bangles - Married Hindu women also wear bangles on both hands, and never remove them until they are divorced or widowed. Often made of glass, they are broken when the marriage has ended. Bollywood uses this to great dramatic effect in Hindi films, with a woman being informed of the demise of her husband by the messenger (often her son) smashing her glass bangles and wiping the sindoor off her forehead. Bangles made of gold and silver, as well as other materials are also worn by the middle class.

The concept of mourning jewelry, the wearing of black jewelry, is becoming an accepted, visible choice for widows and widowers. Usually a black wedding band is worn on the third finger of the left hand for a spouse. Usually the ring is a black wedding band but black eternity bands and black solitaires are also being used. The term is "widows ring" and the mourning ring is added to the marriage rings, and worn for the duration of the mourning period.

Hats and head coverings

In Jewish tradition, a married woman is expected to cover her head when entering a synagogue. In Orthodox Jewish communities, head coverings are worn by women at all times outside her home. In some Haredi communities, women shave their heads after the wedding and wear a close-fitting black scarf. The type of head covering may be determined by local custom or personal preference. In some communities, it is permissible for hair to show; in others, no strand is left uncovered. Hats, headscarves, snoods and wigs are used, sometimes in combination.





  1. ^ Kraybill, Donald (2001). The Riddle of Amish Culture. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 68. ISBN 080186772X.  
  2. ^ Hostetler, John (1997). Hutterite Society. The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 174. ISBN 0801856396.  


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