Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Saudi Man's Headdress


All over the Middle East, headgear is an important component of the traditional man's uniform.  Underneath the scarf is a small white cap called keffiyah which anchors the scarf and keeps it from slipping. Men in Saudi Arabia most commonly wear the red and white checkered scarf (shemagh) or a plain white scarf (ghutra), although there are many other colors and patterns available. They have been a part of the Middle Eastern man's fashion for a long long time, originally worn to protect from sandstorms and the hot sun.

The square scarf is folded in half into a triangle shape.  The scarf is then placed on the head with the two longer points on the left and right and the remaining point to the center back.  The black ring called egal is placed on top to hold the scarf down and keep it in place.

There are so many ways a man can style his scarf! Some wear it hanging straigh down, others like to flip the sides to the back, or maybe flipped up over the top.  There is not just one way of wearing it.


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7 comments:

Bibi said...

When I was in Doha, I was fascinated by how chic the headgear looked. My American friend told me that great care was taken to have a perfect point downwards on the forehead.

Bibi said...

BTW, your tile background is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Could you clarify the terminology? I thought the small cap worn underneath was called "taqiyah" or sometimes "kufi," and "keffiyah" was the common Levantine name for the patterned scarf when it is worn there for their own varied reasons of community identification/allegiance.

Is the usage different in the KSA? Or did my teacher mix up the terms? Obviously, different places and dialects can use different words for the same thing, or assign different meanings to the same word, depending on the place/dialect.

Susie of Arabia said...

Hi Bibi - Yes, I meant to mention about the point in the front, but I forgot. So thanks! And thanks about the tile background - I created it myself!

Susie of Arabia said...

Hi Anonymous - Yes the small white cap is known by different terms in different countries. It can get confusing!
Here in Saudi Arabia the small white cap is called keffiyah. In other places, keffiyah is the term for the scarf itself. For example, Palestinians use keffiyah to refer to the black and white checkered scarf they wear.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Do you know if there is significance to the weaves of the colored scarves? I've heard the colors can mean different things (green and white if you've completed your Hajj pilgrimage, red and white for countries with monarchies, black and white for Palestinian sovereignty/PLO, etc.,) but I don't know how widely accepted or correct those meanings are, and I don't think I've encountered anyone describing a system of meanings for the weaves themselves within the color schemes (checks, houndstooth, etc.). Are the patterns related to family allegiances? Brands? Stylistic choices?

William Kendall said...

Thanks for the lesson.