MORE pictures and information:
A Western woman who has used menstrual huts
Caucasian menstrual hut (engraving)
New Guinea menstrual hut carving (engraving)
Visit the odor page.
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants & panties directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.


Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health

Menstrual huts
Guide for this museum

This page gathers up and points to menstrual hut pictures, information and a map plus related items on this site.

Menstrual huts of course separated menstruating women from their community in many cultures as the map below shows. See two photos of them below the map.

Isn't it interesting that women should live apart just because of the monthly bleeding? In a sense this still happens everywhere they use menstrual pads, tampon, sponges and cups. Some women today do bleed into their clothing both in mainstream America and elsewhere because of poverty or just because they want to, maybe for political reasons. More women than you think did so in the past.

MORE pictures and information:
A Western woman who has used menstrual huts
Caucasian menstrual hut (engraving)
New Guinea menstrual hut carving (engraving)

Menstrual seclusion and pads in today's INDIA:
Washable menstrual pads for women in Almora, Uttar Pradesh state,
India
, giving them more freedom (1999).
Teaching girls about puberty, menstruation and
how to make washable menstrual pads, in rural India.

Visit the odor page.

English CAPTIONS for the 19-photo series on menstrual huts in Nepal in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 8 March 2014: "Frauen in Nepal: Jeden Monat in die Verbannung" ("Women in Nepal: Banishment Every Month").
Photos by Navesh Chitrakar;
no author given for the German captions but the photographer must have had input. I (Harry Finley) translated the German text to English, below.


Photo #1: During menstruation women in the mountains of Nepal are regarded as unclean. They're banished from society and must sleep in exposed, bare huts. 14-year-old Uttara Saud waits here for her evening meal. [That's her in her hut at left, a section of photo #3.]

2. Nine years ago Nepal's highest court forbade this tradition but in some regions women are still outcast like in the village Legudsen in the Achham district.

3. Uttara lives in this hut [left] when she has her period. She is pretty much at the mercy of the weather and wild animals. Women may not enter houses and temples during Chaupadi [the custom banishing women during menstruation].

4. Aishi Devi Saud is in the traditional dress of the women in the mountains of Legudsen. Chaupadi is still part of the culture there.

5. The shadow of Uttara on the outer wall of her house in Legudsen.

6. Uttara's Chaupadi is over and so is her banishment. She's taken a bath and is combing her hair.

7.  Uttara stands in front of her house after the bath that has ended Chapadi. The shy 14-year-old misses school every month because of her period.

8. Teacher Rup Chand Shah is among the few who ignore the custom. She continues to teach the students even as she's bleeding.

9. In the village of Bailpata 15-year-old Sanu Bhul and 16-year-old Nirmia Kadayat dance during explanatory classes about Chaupadi. Rupa Shand Shah also teaches such classes.

10. Suntali Devi Saud washes her clothes. During Chaupadi the other villagers avoid her.


11. Tradition says that menstruation makes women unclean. This towel, which was washed because of Chaupadi, lies on a rock to dry.

12. Some prohibitions make life very difficult for menstruating women. Dhuna Devi Saud relates how hard it is for her to sleep in the hut on cold nights. The room has no windows and a narrow door and is too small for a bed.

13. Dhuna Devi Saud prepares for the night in the hut. She's almost defenseless against the animals that live in the surrounding mountains.

14. A family member brings food to menstruating women. The dishes the menstruating women women use cannot be touched during the period.

15. During menstruation the 20-year-old Surja Devi Saud sits in front of her house in the Achham district.


16. Bhogu Devi Saud has finished the menstrual banishment. Even women who reject the custom must adhere to it because it's so firmly entrenched in her society and a violation is unthinkable.

17. The tradition is life threatening for women and girls. 15-year-old Sarmila Bhul was found dead in this hut; her parents don't know what killed her.

18. Sarmila's parents Yagraj and Ishwora Bhul sit in front of their house in the village of Ridikot one year after the death of their daughter.

19. Yagraj Bhul holds a photo of his dead daughter Sarmilla. He says she was a healthy girl and a good student.

Below: A map showing the places where people have used menstrual huts.
On the map, Hütten means huts.
The map is from the catalog of the German exhibition
"Menstruation: Monatshygiene im Wandel von 1900 bis heute"
("Menstruation: The Changing Menstrual Hygiene from 1900 to Today")
that occured between November 26 1998-July 31 1999 in the Lorsch
section of the Hessian State Museum, Darmstadt. Sabine Zinn-Thomas and Walter
Stolle wrote the catalog and museum text. The original comes from E. Püschel's
"Die Menstruation und ihre Tabus," ("Menstruation and Its Taboos") 1998.
Below: Farm with menstrual hut in Mali, Africa ("Gehöft mit Menstruationshütte, Mali, Afrika").
Also from the above exhibiton catalog.
 
Below: Menstrual hut (reconstructed) in Waimea Falls, Hawaii.
Read more about this below the picture.

A menstrual house - hale pe'a in Hawaiian (above) - segregated menstruating women from the rest of the community in many cultures. Katherine Nachod, two-time visitor to MUM in my house and a great supporter of the museum, sent this photo of herself above next to a reconstruction of such a hut in the Hawaiian Islands.
The park, Waimea Falls, is a private enterprise.
One of my ideas for a brick-and-mortar menstruation museum is to place an actual menstrual hut on the museum grounds that visitors can enter.
By the way, different cultures had different reasons for this segregation, a subject widely discussed in the anthropology of menstruation.
See also the work of Dr. Beverly Strassmann and read what Professor Sally Price, the Dittman Professor of American Studies at The College of William and Mary, in Virginia, U.S.A., has written about menstrual huts and read one of her comments.

A Hawaii resident e-mailed me in February, 2008, about Hawaiian customs and the meaning of taboo:

Dear Mr. Finley and Mum Staff,

Thank you for assembling your collection of menstrual materials for viewing on your website. I have enjoyed reading the scanned printed media. Many of the ads are overtly obsessed with hygiene. It is with the issue of hygiene that I feel as though I need to clarify the menstrual huts in Polynesia, particularly in Hawaii. I have read an except of the non-fiction book 'The Polynesian Family System in Ka'u, Hawaii' written by Handy & Pukui'* regarding the taboo placed on menstruating woman and their segregation. These taboos were a far more pleasant time in a woman's cycle than I feel is being portrayed on the MUM.org site. Taboo does not, in fact, refer to menes in particular, but is a very broad term signifying sacred, holy, concecrated, forbidden, keep out, and priveleged area. Kapu reaches all parts of society via agriculture, medicine, dining, foodstuffs, healing, hunting, fishing, geneology, marriage, the Polynesian (lunar)calendar, ect. The word kahapouli refers to mentruating women and their time within the hale pe'a (mentsrual hut).

While kahapouli literally means place of dark night, the atmosphere and activity in and around the hale pe'a placed emphasis on relaxation and recentering the mind and body of the menstruating woman. Women rekindled family and friendship ties (ohana) while she was given a needed break from homelife and children within the hut. Kahapouli took precidence over all other womens kapu. For example, when it was her kahapouli time, a nursing mother placed her child with a nursing relative. The menstrual blood that collected on fine wood fiber and such was then buried and a kapu of sacredness placed on the spot. The woman to handle this task was also kapu.

Incidently, the word for moon, Mahina, refers to the godess Hina. The moon represented all things female.

Lastly, since much of the Polynesian belief systems relied heavily on the support and input of other family members, the elders were revered and rarely unquestioned.

Mahalo nui loa,
****

NEXT | MORE pictures and information:
A Western woman who has used menstrual huts
Caucasian menstrual hut (engraving)
New Guinea menstrual hut carving (engraving)
Menstrual seclusion and pads in today's INDIA:
Washable menstrual pads for women in Almora, Uttar Pradesh state,
India
, giving them more freedom (1999).
Teaching girls about puberty, menstruation and
how to make washable menstrual pads, in rural India.
Visit the odor page.


© 2011 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to hfinley@mum.org
See also Australian douche ad (ca. 1900) - Fresca douche powder (U.S.A.) (date ?) - Kotique douche liquid ad, 1974 (U.S.A.) - Liasan (1) genital wash ad, 1980s (Germany) - Liasan (2) genital wash ad, 1980s (Germany) - Lysol douche liquid ad, 1928 (U.S.A.) - Lysol douche liquid ad, 1948 (U.S.A.) - Marvel douche liquid ad, 1928 (U.S.A.) - Midol menstrual pain pill ad, 1938 (U.S.A.) - Midol booklet (selections), 1959 (U.S.A.) - Mum deodorant cream ad, 1926 (U.S.A.) - Myzone menstrual pain pills ad, 1952 (Australia) - Pristeen genital spray ad, 1969 (U.S.A.) - Spalt pain tablets, 1936 (Germany) - Vionell genital spray ad, 1970, with Cheryl Tiegs (Germany) - Zonite douche liquid ad, 1928 (U.S.A.)
The Perils of Vaginal Douching (essay by Luci Capo Rome) - the odor page