Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The "Burqa" as seen in Oman: the veil of the Bedu Woman

If you are a Westerner, when you hear the word "burka/burqa" you likely envision the indigo blue Afghani mesh full body blanket enforced by the Taliban, or the black fabric face veil associated with Saudi women. Bur8aa/burqa/burka [and sometimes called Batula] is none of those things. Burqa is a mask of varying design, usually denoting a beduoin heritage. Usually black, or traditionally stained blue with indigo, or appearing golden, it is light, breathable, and protects the face from dust and sun. It also mimics the features of a falcon. In Oman, it is predominantly worn by Beduoin women, but there are also traditional Baluchi, Dhofari, and Muscat Burqaa, though they are rarely worn these days so I couldn't find any pictures of them for you to see. In our Northern region of Buraimi, and the Musandam pennisula, thin, flat gold coloured Burqa as pictured above are traditional to those of Beduoin families (even if they're completely modern these days). They look entirely the same as the Emirati styles. Traditionally they were donned when a girl hit puberty, and she wore the thinner style [thin at the lip] until marriage when she started to wear a slightly thicker design.In the Ashaqiyah region of Oman in the Wahiba Sands, (also, in Sinaw) a much thicker version of the gold Burqa is worn, and it has a ridged beak in the middle, and is not flat like the Northern style. It is also traditionally tied at the back with a very long tasselled string.In al Wusta and Al Dhahirah a thick black ridged burqa is worn, and is usually donned after marriage, to denote the status of the woman as a wife.Nowadays though, as Oman comes together in Muscat, and many traditions are exchanged, the burqa is becomming an object of fashion and isn't just reserved for Beduoin girls on their wedding nights. For example, my interior Omani inlaws sometimes wear Dhofari or Baluchi dress for weddings, and alot of Omani girls have started to wear these fashion burqaa for their melka/engagement ceremony, such as the Zanzibari Muscat bride pictured above. (I wore a Burqa for my own wedding, designed by Aseel).For crystalized Burqa like the ones pictured above, booths at the Seeb Exhibition center carry them, as well as the costume jewelry store in Al Bahja mall.
For embellished fabric ones, Al Aseel in Qu'rum's little mall across from the Nando's and McDonald's upstairs from the kids rides (I forget its new name) sells and rents them.If you want an imitation of the traditional burqa styles, in Mutrah souq you take the first right turn as you enter the souq and you will find the above display hanging from a shop on the left side a few minutes in. To get the real ones you can purchase them from Beduoin women at the Mutrah festival on now, or from the Omani Handicrafts shop across from the Saabco mall in Al Qurum.

10 comments:

Aliyah said...

asalamu aleikum. amazing article opno :) please, i have a request if u dont mind. can i copy this article in my blog but translated in my language? since u live in Oman u have real info regarding omani burqa. i will definetely put the source :)
thanks.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Aliyah: wa alaekiom salam. Of course you can, and in answer to your question that isn't posted, I'm not but I have alot of friends originally from there.

I am curious/ Which language?

Aliyah said...

romanian sis :) my romanian friends especially the muslim girls will love to read about it :X jazakiAllahu kairan sis
i will try to post this by tomorrow.

salz said...

hi there
i wanted to gt a gold veil and also a silver veil similar to the first pic, but simpler for a wedding. Anyone knows where I can get them, I live in the UK

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Salz: I have no idea of any online sellers. Ask Khaleejia at www.khaleejia.blogspot.com.

She might know a seller from UAE.

Anonymous said...

Asslamuailaikum,

I would like to buy those crystalised burka. Do you know where to buy? And how much you pay for your wedding burqa designed by Aseel? It's hard to find here in Singapore.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Anon: the crystal burqa is usually 10-35 Omani rials depending on the design an venue, and the Al Aseel one was packaged ALONG with a traditional Omani dress which was 500 Omani rials. But I do believe to tailor it should have been no more than 10 rials unless you got alot of crystals and beadwork done on it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Again

Do you have the name of the shop? Can I buy online for the crystal burqa because my country very far. Maybe you can give their email address or contact number. Thank you

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Sorry anon, it is a travelling exhibit. As for Al Aseel, I don't know her email but next time I go I will post it here inshaAllah if she says she can do deliveries that way;

babelle said...

Hello. My name is Babelle. I am french so please excuse my english. I hâve a question regarding the burqa And I cannot find the answer anywere nor photos. I looked in encyclopedias, in dictionnary, all sorts of intelligent (And some not so much) sites but no answer what so ever. Years ago I was in Mumbay And I saw women wearing burqas entire black, gloves, head covered (up to There you gone tell me That is in all the Brooks) but théir face was covered with a hard black "mask" having a conic shape quite long, about 35 cm long, looking like a bird bec but not bended. À straight shape. I am not sûre but There was little open Space on each side to see outside. It looks like bird with all my respect. It is difficulté to discribe without using Words That CAN make me understood. Fèw years later I saw another one in London. Ever since, every Time I talked about it rather They won'T béliève me or They said That I mistaken. There is only a Tiny little article saying That the Omanees burqas hâve a hard material shape. Please CAN you help me. If that burqa doesn't exist in Oman maybe you'll know were it comes from. It seems to be quite rare. In advance, let me thank you for having red my letter right to the end of it. Babelle