“Sewing by the Window:” Women in Judeo-Spanish Folk Songs

Talya Alon


This article examines the image and representation of women in Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) popular music. It seems that the observation of the folklore scholar Galit Hasan-Rokem, who claims that popular folk culture is a multiple-voice culture, expressing, among others, feminine perspectives,[i] is reinforced when examining Judeo-Spanish folk songs. The Ladino musical tradition is a feminine genre, sung and transmitted by women. Furthermore, in her article, “Text-Tiles: Reflections of Women’s Textiled World in the Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) Poetic Tradition,” Michal Held breaks down the word ‘textiles’ into ‘text-tiles,' “text that depict and decipher the Sephardic woman by building layers of meaning."[ii] The article offers a close comparative reading of four popular songs that portray the world of Sephardic (Judeo-Spanish) women, and relates to the dialectic between private and public spheres, "women's work" and feminine identity.

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