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Siwan veils


The oasis Siwa, situated in the far west of Egypt and close to the Libyan border, is inhabited by a Berber population. In the African tradition, these people wear a wrap-around body veil, called tarfottet. The veils are traditionally made of textile, produced in the Cairene area (Kerdassa). The typical Siwan embroidery is later added in Siwa.


The Siwan embroidery always consists of the following colors: green, yellow, orange, red and black, symbolizing the different stage in the ripening process of dates (the most important agricultural produce of the oasis). The patterns and shapes or the embroidery shows a given set of elements associated with the sun cult and other ancient symbols. These symbols are not added to the veils alone, but also to other dress items, like pants (bottom left) and dresses.


Often underneath the tarfottet, a black embroidered cloth is worn to cover the face of the women. Young girls often wear a rectangular cap, see the image below center (compare to the Yemeni head covers presented here).   

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