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Black Red

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 in Mens Clothing

Black Red
Black Red

Arabic Kerchief: How many types are in use in the Arab world and what is the diffrence between the black-red?

The reason I want to know is because I have been to Jordan and most of the people where the red one and not the black. So why is that? And is there a diffrence between the Jordanian and the Palestinian Kerchief?

There are not only different types of arab kerchief but also different ways of wearing and accessories used:

Arab dress for men ranges from the traditional flowing robes to blue
jeans, T-shirts and western business suits. The robes allow for
maximum circulation of air around the body to help keep it cool, and
the head dress provides protection from the sun. At times, Arabs mix
the traditional garb with Western clothes.
Headdress pattern might be an indicator of which tribe, clan, or family
the wearer comes from. However this is not always the case. While in
one village, a tribe or clan might have a unique headdress, in the next
town over an unrelated tribe or clan might wear the same headdress.
Checkered headdresses relate to type and government and
participation in the Hajj.

Red and white checkered
headdress – Generally of
Jordanian origin. Wearer has
made Hajj and comes from a
country with a Monarch.

Black and white checkered headdress – The pattern is
historically of Palestinian origin. Black and grey represent
Presidential rule and completion of the Hajj.

Shi’a- black turbans associated with
Shi’a clergy who are somehow
connected to the Prophet
Muhammed or Ali Ibn Abi Talib the
cousin of the Prophet who was the
4th Khalif of Islam and leader of the
Shi’a sect. Those who wear white turbans are associated
with the lower echelons of the Shi’a hierarchy


Bahraini men usually wear the Thobe (ثوب) and the traditional headdress which includes the Keffiyeh, Ghutra and Agal.

* The Thobe, sometimes called Dishdasha, is a loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garment. Summer Thobes are white and made of cotton and winter Thobes can be darker and made of wool.

* The Ghutra is a square scarf, made of cotton or silk, folded in a triangle and worn over the Keffiyeh. In Bahrain, it is usually red and white checked or all white. There is no significance placed on which kind the man wears.

* The Keffiyeh is a white knitted skull cap worn under the Ghutra. The Agal is a thick, double, black cord that is worn on the top of the Ghutra to hold it in place.

* The Agal is a cord that is fastened around the Keffiyeh to hold it in place.

In some occasions, Bahrainis wear a Bisht, which is a cloak made of wool, over the thobe. Unlike the thobe, the Bisht is soft, and it is usually black, brown, or grey.

Hijazi People and teh Hijazi turban:

The Hejazi turban or amamah (Arabic: عمامة) is the turban of the traditional uniform in the region of Hejaz (Mecca, Madina, Jeddah, Taif, and Yunbu). The ancient Arabic proverb “Turbans are Arabs’ crowns” (Arabic: العمائم تيجان العرب) was originally coined based on the Hejazi uniform.

The most well-known version is the orange two-wrap turban, also called the Ghabbana (Arabic: غبانة). The Ghabbana is commonly worn by artisans (people of professions), craftsmen, and the common people in the old districts such as ‘Awlad ‘al-Hara and the Ummdah. Another Hejazi turban is the white-colored one, worn by the Ulama’a and Imams of the holy mosques, scholars and merchants. Nowadays, the orange turbans are more common for folkloric purposes, or as a represention of the Hejazi cultural dress.


ost Kuwaitis men wear a dishdasha, a floor length robe with a center robe opening which is but on over the head. Because it is so well suited to the climate, this basic garment has changed little in the last few hundred years, though the collar, front button fastening and buttoned cuffs are 20th century innovations introduction by Indian tailor . Provided he is not corpulent, the dishdasha can at time make the wearer look quit elegant.
The three-part headdress of the Kuwait male is also very functional. It provides shade during summer, it can be wrapped across the face during sandstorms, and it’s end can be twisted up like a turban if the wearer is doing manual work The gutra is a square piece of cloth which is folded into a triangle and then placed centrally on the head so that the ends hang down equally over the shoulders. It is held in place by an ogal, a double circlet of twisted black cord, which is placed firmly over the head. Often a gahfiah, a close fitting skull cap , is worn under the gutra to stop it from slipping .
The headdress can be worn in various ways, ranging from the stiffly formal to the downright rakish, depending on the wearer’s mode and the social occasion, In the most dignified style the gutra is centered on the head. And pulled down well cover the forehead so that tow pointed ends are arranged on each side of the face, the other at the back, and the ogal is set straight on the head just slightly tilted back from the forehead .The possible variation on this basic positioning are endless. The ogal can be pushed backwards towards the top of the head, pulled down over the forehead, tilted on the kildare side or pulled down over a raffish eye. And once the ogal has been exactly positioned, the gutra can be arranged in various symmetrical and asymmetrical ways. The ends can, for example, be folded neatly back over the shoulders to open the face, or one end can be left hanging forward while the other is folded up and draped back to the head to expose a handsome profile. Shebabs, young Kuwaiti studs, spend a lot of their time getting the lie of ogal and gutra just right.
Once his headgear is settled to his liking, all a Kuwaiti has to complete his dress is to slip on a pair of leather sandals as he goes out the door. In the old days he would properly have girded himself in a leather belt with shoulder strap to hold a sheathed saef (sword) and khanjar (dagger) with possibly a sakeen (dirk) up his sleeve, but today’s Kuwaiti has replaced these manly accessories with those modern necessities, a mobile and pager.Kuwaiti wears white or cream dishdash, with matching gutras, most months of the year.
During winter somber –coloured heavier cloths are used and the gutras is changed to a red and white check, For example, the onset of winter and spring is easily marked when the locals suddenly, within the space of a day or so, change the colour of their clothing. In winter, most Kuwaitis also wear a heavy bisht, a cloak made of traditional thick dun-coloured camel hair or of heavy modern wool, over their dishdash, though the shebab tend to favour thick leather wool-lined zipped jerkins.
On grand occasion, a semi-transparent bisht with zari, special gold braiding, is worn by the rich and powerful, The embossed look of the zari is created by the first hand-embroidering the bisht with gold threads and then hammering the threads so that they become fused.


Men traditionally wear an ankle-length, cool, loose-fitting and supremely comfortable garment, the kandoura or dishdash complete with a high neck and long sleeves whilst a headdress, comprised of a skull-cap (taqia or qahfa) covered by a long cloth, usually white, (gutra) all secured by a wool rope (al iqal or al ghizam) wound round the crown, protects the head and neck from the blistering sun. The bisht, a sleeveless flowing black or beige cloak trimmed with gold, whose material depends on the social status of the wearer, is sometimes worn, especially for ceremonial occasions. The fact that this form of traditional dress is still used, with minor variation, throughout the Arabian peninsula is a sure tribute to its comfort and suitability for the difficult desert climate, even though this is now alleviated by extensive air-conditioning. But it also points to the pride people have in their particular Arab identity.

In addition to the clothes outlined above, Bedouin men were usually attired with weaponry of one kind or another. The khanjar, a curving double-edged blade, six to eight inches long, with hilt of local horn overlaid with sliver, was once necessary for defensive purposes but has rapidly become a status symbol. The khanjar’s curving wooden scabbard, is more extensively decorated, the upper part usually with engraved silver, the lower section consisting of strips of leather overlaid with silver and decorated with silver rings and wire, often in a geometric pattern and capped with a silver tip. Scabbards of a more recent manufacture employ gold for decoration. A single-edged tapering blade dagger with straight carved wood scabbard, silver overlaid at both ends is popular with the Shihuh of Ras Al Khaimah, as is the yirz, an axe combining a three foot shaft with a four inch steel head: the saif, a double edged sword and the scimitar-like qattara are usually only seen in museums or in ceremonial dance. Silver and copper too was used to decorate containers for gunpowder and long-barreled pistols. Bedouin men also carried more benign items such as beautifully decorated silver purses, pipes, toothpicks; ear cleaning spoons and tweezers, all hanging from silver chains. Modern rifles and cartridge belts slung around the waist were eventually added to the customary dress of the Bedouin: like the khanjar these too were used for defensive poses but are now mainly a status symbol.


Today, as in antiquity, men wear a thawb, a simple, ankle length shirt of wool or cotton. Traditional headwear includes a ghutra, a large diagonally- folded cotton square worn over a kufiyyah (skull cap) and held in place by an igaal, a double-coiled cord circlet. A flowing floor-length outer cloak, known as a bisht, is generally made of wool or camel hair in black, beige, brown or cream tones. The saudi ghutra is red and white.

Gutra usually worn in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE comes in either pure white or a combination of red and white (also called smagh / shmagh). In Kuwait and Bahrain, pure white Ghutra is the choice. Contemporary black-and-white headpiece, called Kofiyah / Kaffiyeh are popular in Palestine , Jordan, Syria & Iraq. These lightweight cotton and rayon scarves with the black and white checker pattern that popular figures in Islamic culture have made famous — pattern is similar to the Kufiyyeh worn by Chairman Arafat, among others. Other name variations include Keffiyeh, Keffiyah, Kaffiye, Keffiya, and Koffiya.

General Info:

The keffiyeh (Arabic: كوفية, kūfīyä; plural: Arabic: كوفيات, kūfīyāt) is also known as a shmagh/shemagh (Arabic: شماغ, šmāġ), a ghutra (Arabic: غطرة, ġuṭrä) or a hatta (Arabic: حطّة, ḥaṭṭä) is a traditional headdress of Arab men, made of a square of cloth (“scarf”), usually cotton, folded and wrapped in various styles around the head. It is commonly found in arid climate areas to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well as for occasional use in protecting the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand.

Local variations exist. Many Palestinian keffiyeh are a mix of cotton and wool, which lets them dry quickly and keep the wearer’s head warm. The keffiyeh is usually folded in half, into a triangle, and the fold is worn across the forehead. Often, the keffiyeh is held in place by a rope circlet, called an agal (Arabic: عقال, ʿiqāl). Some wearers wrap the keffiyeh into a turban, while others wear it loosely draped around the back and shoulders. Sometimes a skullcap is worn underneath the keffiyeh, and, in the past, it has also been wrapped around the rim of the fez. The keffiyeh is almost always of white cotton cloth, but many have a checkered pattern in red or black stitched into them. The plain, white keffiyeh is most popular in the Gulf states, almost excluding any other style in Kuwait and Bahrain. The black-and-white keffiyeh is most popular in the Levant. The red-and-white keffiyeh is worn throughout these regions, but is most strongly associated with Jordan.

Keffiyeh is often spelled kaffiyah, keffiya, kaffiya, kufiya or some other variation. There is little basis for considering any one of these more correct than the others, as the varied spellings simply show different understandings of the pronunciation in Arabic, which differs from region to region, as well as different methods of transliteration from the Arabic alphabet to the Latin alphabet. The name keffiyeh is purported to come from the name of the city Kufa (Arabic: الكوفة, al-kūfä).

The keffiyeh, especially the all-white version, can also be called a ghutra (Arabic: غطرة, ġuṭrä), particularly in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain (where the skullcap is confusingly called keffiyeh), but is also known in some areas a shmagh (Arabic: شماغ, šmāġ) or a hatta (Arabic: حطّة, ḥaṭṭä).

In the 1930s, the keffiyeh became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism as a result of its association with rural areas (as opposed to the city-dweller’s fez). The British attempted to ban it in Jenin, and at one point, a British army chief went so far as to propose jailing any Palestinian who wore it, but he was overruled by his superiors.[citation needed]

The keffiyeh would later become a trademark symbol of Yasser Arafat, who was rarely seen without his peculiarly arranged black-and-white scarf (only occasionally did he sport a military cap or, in colder climates, a Russian-style fur hat). Arafat would wear his keffiyeh in semi-traditional manner, around the head and wrapped by an agal, but he also wore a similarly patterened piece of cloth in the neckline of his military fatigues. Early on, he had made it his personal trademark to drape the scarf over his right shoulder only and arranging it in the rough shape of a triangle, so resembling the outlines of Palestine. This way of wearing the keffiyeh in turn became a symbol of Arafat as a person and political leader, and it has not been imitated by other Palestinian leaders.

Another Palestinian figure associated with the keffiyeh is Leila Khaled, a female member of the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Several photographs of Khaled circulated in the Western newspapers after the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 and the Dawson’s Field hijackings. These often included Khaled wearing a keffiyeh in the style of a Muslim woman’s hijab, wrapped around the head and shoulders. This was unusual, as the keffiyeh is associated with Arab masculinity, and many believe this to be something of a fashion statement by Khaled, denoting her equality with men in the Palestinian armed struggle. The use of the keffiyeh as a hijab remains very uncommon, and to the extent it exists, it must be assumed to be a personal political statement.

The colors of the stitching in a keffiyeh are also vaguely associated with Palestinians’ political sympathies. The iconic “spider-web” black-and-white keffiyeh is often displayed symbolically by members of Arafat’s Fateh party (which more generally uses yellow as its party colour), although it has never been able to expropriate it as their exclusive symbol. This is in contrast to how many members of the radical leftist PLO factions (such as PFLP, PFLP-GC DFLP) prefer the checkered red keffieyhs – red being both the traditional colour of the workers’ movement and the red scarf supposedly more indicative of a bedouin and rural (thus poorer, more popular) background. The Islamist factions, such as Hamas, use green – representative of the Islamic faith – as a party color, but for keffiyehs they stick to the traditional black-and-white or red variants, with no particular preference evident. While widely known, this color symbolism is by no means universally accepted by all Palestinians, and its importance should not be overstated – red or black-and-white scarves are used by Palestinians of all political stripes, as well as by those with no particular political sympathies.

Likely the best-known Western wearer of the keffiyeh, the British Colonel T. E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) wore a plain white one with agal during his involvement in the Arab Revolt in World War I. This image of Lawrence was later popularized by the film epic about him, Lawrence of Arabia, in which he was played by Peter O’Toole.

Possibly due to the view of Arabs as part of the allies of World War I, the 1920s “silent-film” era of American cinema saw studios take to Orientalist themes of the “exotic” Middle East, and keffiyehs became a standard part of the theatrical wardrobe. These films and their male leads (as with The Sheik and The Son of the Sheik, starring heart-throb actor Rudolph Valentino) typically had Western actors in the role of an Arab, often wearing the keffiyeh with the agal.

In current times, in the music video for the Nine Inch Nails single “Survivalism,” Trent Reznor can be seen wearing a shemagh around his neck, though the use of the shemagh in the video is appropriated in part to represent the Art is Resistance movement in the band’s promotional alternate reality game for its album Year Zero.

Symbol of Solidarity

Increased sympathy and activism by Westerners toward Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the years of the Oslo Peace Accords and Second Intifada have led to the wearing of keffiyehs as a sign of their solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian people. After 11 September 2001 American activists also began wearing keffiyehs to show solidarity with Arabs and Muslims targeted by hate crimes and faced with increased racial profiling by police and other security officials. While Western protesters wear differing styles and shades of keffiyeh, the most prominent is the black-and-white keffiyeh. This is typically worn around the neck like a neckerchief, simply knotted in the front with the fabric allowed to drape over the back. Other popular styles include rectangular-shaped scarves with the basic black-and-white pattern in the body, with the ends knitted in the form of flag of Palestine. Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, these rectangular scarves have increasingly appeared with a combination of the Palestinian flag and Al-Aqsa Mosque printed on the ends of the fabric.

Military use

For some years, the wearing of the keffiyeh has been almost ubiquitous amongst British soldiers, who now, almost exclusively, refer to them as shemaghs. Their use by some units and formations of the military and police forces of the former British Empire and subsequent Commonwealth dates back to before the Second World War. Because of its utility it was adopted by the Palestine Police, the Trans Jordan Frontier Force, the Sudan Defence Force, the Arab Legion, the Libyan Arab Force, the Long Range Desert Group, the Special Air Service and Popski’s Private Army, amongst others, who wore them while operating in North Africa. After the war, their use by the Army continued with the keffiyeh being worn in both desert and temperate environments in theatres such as Dhofar. Since the beginning of the War on Terror, these keffiyeh, usually cotton and in military olive drab or khaki with black stitching, have been adopted by US troops as well. Their practicality in an arid environment, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, explains their constant popularity with soldiers. Soldiers often wear the keffiyeh folded in half into a triangle and wrapped around the face, with the halfway point being placed over the mouth and nose, sometimes coupled with goggles, to keep sand out of the face.

Fashion trend

As with other articles of clothing worn in wartime, such as the T-shirt and khaki pants, the keffiyeh has been seen as chic among non-Arabs in the West, who may be uninterested in politics, the military, or both.

Keffiyehs became trendy in Israel in the 1970s[citation needed] and the United States in the late 1980s, at the start of the First Intifada, when bohemian girls wore keffiyehs as scarves around their necks.[1][2] In the early 2000s, keffiyehs were very popular among youths in Tokyo, who often wore them with camouflage clothing.[1] The trend recurred in the mid-2000s in the United States,[1][2] Europe,[2] and Australia,[citation needed] when the keffiyeh became popular as a fashion accessory, usually worn as a scarf around the neck in hipster circles.[1][2] Stores such as Urban Outfitters and TopShop stocked the item.[2] (After some controversy, however, Urban Outfitters pulled the item.[2]) In April 2007 the Manchester branch of Urban Outfitters re-instated the item as the fashion trend took off again.[citation needed]

In mid-2000s New York City, non-Arabs tended to wear keffiyehs in one of three ways.[1] Pro-Palestian activists wore them loosely draped over their shoulders. World-music aficionados wore them as regular, bunched scarves around their necks (as did girls in the 1980s). Finally, hipsters folded them in half to make a triangle, then gathered the scarf around the neck to leave one point facing down in the center of the chest.

Red and Yellow (Wiz Khalifa Parody) (Black and Yellow McDonalds Parody) By: Adam Ivy

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