Veils

 

In the West Asian and North African region both men and women wear many different types of veils. In these pages, mostly veils worn by women are subject, with Egypt as a main focus. Generally speaking there is one important difference between areas where veils are worn: those areas influenced by the Arab region on the one hand, and the African region on the other. Nomadic tribes indigenous to the African region (non-Arabs) generally wear body veils and (sometimes separate) head covers made of scarves or long pieces of cloth. Under Arab influences in the region, face veils made to cover the front of the face were introduced. Egypt, as a crossroad of cultures shows a congregate of both styles; both face veils and body veils are found here.
 
Decorative patterns used mostly on Arab Bedouin style veils show wealth, identity of the wearer and social status. Also the protective quality of veils is of importance. Veils do not only protect the wearer against weather conditions or climate, they also protect against evil, used as an interface for protective amulets. These protective amulets may be of coins, but also embroidery, beadwork or loose beads and stones. All those elements together on a veil may represent a recognizable style typical for the identity of the tribe a woman lives in. All sorts of materials may be used. Bedouin women collect small trinkets they come across in the desert, keep them and place them on the veil for good fortune or protection. The material, the cloth of the veil, the dyes used; all add to the protective aspects of the garment. Old, strong amulets are sometimes kept over generations and are again and again applied to veils, although this practice of inheritance is often disputed. The veils themselves may also be seen as protective against evil. By covering of the beauty of the wearer, evil jealousy is averted. A woman wearing a veil will receive the honor of her people when wearing the veil. With her veil she will also bestow honor on those she meets.