TITLE: Bedouin Battoulah
TYPE: face veil
GENERAL REGION: Middle East
COUNTRY: Yemen
ETHNICITY: Arabic
DESCRIPTION: Bedouin Woman’s Battoulah (Veil Mask)
MAKER: Unknown
FUNCTION: social control; status
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed cloth
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cloth; stitching; turquoise pebbles; coral; pearls; silver decorations; gold beads

Arabic women living in rural areas or hewing to old traditions continue to wear the battoulah, a partial veil mask, throughout the Persian Gulf region.  Although the tradition has fallen out of favor among younger and urban Arabic women, some continue to wear it to indicate their status as married or to avoid unwanted attention. In the distant past, the mask was gold or red in color, but today black and silver predominate.

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TITLE: Bedouin Niqab
TYPE: face veil
GENERAL REGION: Middle East
COUNTRY: Egypt
SUBREGION: Siwa Oasis
ETHNICITY: Berber
DESCRIPTION: Berber Bedouin Woman’s Niqab (Veil Mask)
MAKER: Unknown
FUNCTION: celebration; social control
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: cotton cloth
OTHER MATERIALS: beads; silver coins; brass coins; silver plates; metal chains; stitching

In the western desert of Egypt, Berber women living in Bedouin societies sometimes wear masks or veils called niqab. The veils serve multiple functions, including protecting the women’s face from sun damage, filtering dust from the air, displaying adornment, and demonstrating wealth or status. The veil may also allow men to exercise social control over women’s bodies, maintaining their status as proprietary to fathers and husbands.  Not all Bedouian societies use the niqab, but those that do generally begin the practice after the woman or girl has been married.

The niqab worn by Bedouin women on special occasions are sometimes elaborately decorated with coins and beads, like this one.  Such masks are not for everyday use; they would be too hot and heavy. They are worn during special events, such as weddings and feasts.  This one comes from the Berber people in the Siwa Oasis, in the western Egyptian desert.

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TITLE: Harb Bedouin Mask
TYPE: face veil
GENERAL REGION: Middle East
COUNTRY: Saudi Arabia
SUBREGION: Arabian Peninsula (Bilad al-Sham)
ETHNICITY: Arab (Harb)
DESCRIPTION: Harb Bedouin Mask
MAKER: Unknown
FUNCTION: celebration; social control
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: cotton cloth
OTHER MATERIALS: stitching; silver ornaments

In the Hijaz (Islamic holy land), Arabic women of the Harb tribe wear the veil on certain occasions.  The Harb people are a Bedouin tribe living between western Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  The function of the veil is ostensibly to preserve female modesty, which allows male tribe members to control female bodies.  Such masks are not for everyday use; they would be too hot and heavy. They are worn during special events, such as weddings and feasts, and when strangers visit the camp.

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TITLE: Bedouin Niqab
TYPE: face veil
GENERAL REGION: Middle East
COUNTRY: Egypt
SUBREGION: Siwa Oasis
ETHNICITY: Berber
DESCRIPTION: Berber Bedouin Woman’s Niqab (Veil Mask)
MAKER: Unknown
FUNCTION: celebration; social control
AGE: 1952
MAIN MATERIAL: wool cloth
OTHER MATERIALS: glass beads; silver coins; silver plates; metal chains; stitching

In the western desert of Egypt, Berber women living in Bedouin societies sometimes wear masks or veils called niqab. The veils serve multiple functions, including protecting the women’s face from sun damage, filtering dust from the air, displaying adornment, and demonstrating wealth or status. The veil may also allow men to exercise social control over women’s bodies, maintaining their status as proprietary to fathers and husbands.  Not all Bedouian societies use the niqab, but those that do generally begin the practice after the woman or girl has been married.

The niqab worn by Bedouin women on special occasions are sometimes elaborately decorated with coins and beads, like this one.  Such masks are not for everyday use; they would be too hot and heavy. They are worn during special events, such as weddings and feasts.  This one comes from the Berber people in the Siwa Oasis, in the western Egyptian desert, and was worn by a Bedouin woman until her death in 1952.

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