The Omani Batulah


In Oman, women wear very characteristic face veils that cover mainly the areas around the eyes and nose. There are three basic shapes for this veil, although, the size and shape of the batulah varies considerably according to the preference of the individual wearer. The batulah is made to fit and satisfy a personal taste. It is made for each individual to accentuate the facial features of the owner. On the market (image center left) the veils are made and sold.


The batulah has a large rim on the front of the veils like many other Arabian face veils. The rim is supported with paper or carton and is called the gedhab. Most of the time cotton or silk is made to produce these veils, and while they are mostly dyed black, the batulah is often additionally dyed with indigo, leaving its characteristic blue stains on the face of the wearer. This colouring of the skin is considered a sign of beauty in Oman. The shape of the veil is supported, for instance by strips of paper tape backing the textile (see image below).


In Oman, clothes are often perfumed with incense before wearing. This certainly adds a quality to the veils (see also here, for more information on smell). These veils are (even in these modern times) considered a very popular fashion item and it is said that women proudly wear them indoors as well. In the region the veil is considered to accentuate a woman's features and enhance their beauty.

(The image of the woman on the market is made by Sigrid van Roode, the image far right by an unknown photographer.)

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