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26/02/2009

The keffiyeh (كوفية)


This photo was taken in the street and I did some heavy post editing in photoshop.
The Keffiyeh also known as a (ya)shmagh, ghutrah, or mashadah, is a traditional headdress for Arab men made of a square of cloth (“scarf”), usually cotton, folded and wrapped in various styles around the head. It is commonly found in arid climate areas to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well as for occasional use in protecting the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand. Its distinctive woven check pattern originated in an ancient Mesopotamian representation of either fishing nets or ears of grain. Many Palestinian keffiyeh are a mix of cotton and wool, which lets them dry quickly and keep the wearer’s head warm. The keffiyeh is usually folded in half, into a triangle, and the fold is worn across the forehead. Often, the keffiyeh is held in place by a rope circlet, called an agal. Some wearers wrap the keffiyeh into a turban, while others wear it loosely draped around the back and shoulders. Sometimes a taqiyah is worn underneath the keffiyeh, and, in the past, it has also been wrapped around the rim of the fez. The keffiyeh is almost always of white cotton cloth, but many have a checkered pattern in red or black stitched into them. The plain, white keffiyeh is most popular in the Gulf states, almost excluding any other style in Kuwait and Bahrain.
The black-and-white keffiyeh is a symbol of Palestinian heritage. The red-and-white keffiyeh is worn throughout these regions as well as in Somalia, but is most strongly associated with Jordan, where it is known as shmagh mhadab. The Jordanian keffiyeh has cotton decorative strings on the sides. It is believed that the bigger these strings, the more value it has and the higher a person’s status. It has been used by Bedouins throughout the centuries and was used as a symbol of honour and tribal identification.
The keffiyeh, especially the all-white version, can also be called a ġutrah, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain (where the skullcap is confusingly called keffiyeh), but is also known in some areas as shmagh or ḥaṭṭah.
Traditionally worn by Palestinian peasants, the keffiyeh became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism during the Arab revolt of the 1930s. Its prominence increased in the 1960 with the beginning of the Palestinian resistance movement and its adoption by Arafat. The keffiyeh would later become a trademark symbol of Palestinian politician Yasser Arafat, who was rarely seen without a distinctively-arranged black-and-white scarf. Arafat would wear his keffiyeh in semi-traditional manner, around the head and wrapped by an agal, but he also wore a similarly patterned piece of cloth in the neckline of his military fatigues. Early on, he had made it his personal trademark to drape the scarf over his right shoulder only, arranging it in the rough shape of a triangle, so resembling the outlines of the territory claimed by Palestine. This manner of wearing the keffiyeh in turn became a symbol of Arafat as a person and political leader, and it has not been imitated by other Palestinian leaders.

2 comments:

roentarre said...

I usually associate keffiyeh as a symbol of wealth. Now I know there is more than that.

Thanks for this post and the image is processed in a way to depict the cultural wealth of this orgament

Anonymous said...

Excellent digitial darkroom work. I like the fact you decided to leave a "mysterious face" on the upper right side of the photo.