Public Work

Valencia, Spain


Rosa Jareño

In medieval Europe, wearing dotted patterns was taboo. Without machines, it was difficult to evenly space the dots — and unevenly spaced dots made people think of diseases like leprosy, small pox, the bubonic plague, spotting caused by miscarriages, or handkerchiefs dotted in blood from tuberculosis. Dots were actually bad omens and nothing to be celebrated.

However, non-Western cultures had their own use for the circles. For some cultures the dots conveyed magic, male potency, and the triumph of a hunt. In central Africa, white dots are still used during male-initiation rites.