Kefiyah / Keffiyeh – Arab Headress in many styles

The Arabs in Jerusalem can be seen wearing many different head dress styles. The keffiyeh means “kerchief” or scarf in English.

Many Palestinian men and women wear keffiyeh of cotton and wool mix, which lets them dry quickly and help keep the head warm in winter. The keffiyeh is usually folded in half, into a triangle, and the fold is worn across the forehead.

Palestinian Keffiyeh
Palestinian Keffiyeh

The black-and-white keffiyeh is a symbol of Palestinian heritage.

Simple White Scarf - unfolded
Simple White Scarf - unfolded

The red-and-white keffiyeh is worn throughout the Arab regions, but is most strongly associated with Jordan, where it is known as shmagh mhadab.

Red keffiyeh with black agal - rope circlet
Red keffiyeh with black agal - rope circlet

A kefiyeh can also signal a person’s status in society. It has been used by Bedouins throughout the centuries and was used as a symbol of honor and tribal identification.

Here are some different examples of keffiyeh worn by Arabs in Jerusalem.

At the suk
At the suk
Schoolchildren with keffiyeh
Schoolchildren with keffiyeh
Black modest dress
Black modest dress
White simple scarf
White simple scarf

Many Christian Arab women also cover their heads.  Their head coverings usually signify their religious order and are not worn as symbols of nationality.  In recent years, some Palestinian Christian Arab men and youths,  have begun to wear Palestinian national keffiyehs as scarves if not as head coverings.

Christian Arab headress
Christian Arab headress

Keffiyeh is often spelled kefiyah, kaffiyah, keffiya, kaffiya, and kufiya depending on dialect and region.

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