March 25, 2013

0575 OMAN - Bedouin women in desert

As even their name says, the traditional homeland of Bedouin ("those in the desert" in Arabic) is Arabian Desert, but some groups have migrated north into the Negev Desert region. Mainly nomadic herdsmen divided into tribes or clans, Arabic-speaking and Muslims as religion, in the late 19th century they began transition to a semi-nomadic life, forced by the Ottoman Empire authorities. As a result, today there are two basic groups, the "true" Bedouin, who are nomadic shepherds, and Fellahin, who embraced farming. The "true" Bedouin have been known for raiding any caravans that cross their paths while journeying across barren deserts. They move into the desert during the rainy winter seasons and back to the desert's edge during the hot, dry summers. They speak Badawi, or as it is more commonly called, Bedouin Arabic.

The Bedouin women usually wear brightly coloured long dresses but when they go outside they dress in an abaya (a thin, long black coat sometimes covered with shiny embroidery) and they always cover their head and hair with a tarha (a black, thin shawl). Traditionally a woman's face is hidden behind a burqa'ah (burqa, burka), which it is also a protection against wind and sand. There are different types of burqa'ah, varying from tribe to tribe (and from area to area). In Oman, burqa'ah is a kind of mask that resembles a falcon, in many colors and designs, but usually black or golden, made of a lightweight material, but with a metal look, which binds on back with some long and thick laces.

They wear also a range of jewellery that represents the family's wealth - but also has perceived protective qualities. For instance triangles (representing hands) or eyes avert the evil eye. Hijab (or hirz) - silver cylinders containing verses of the Quran - protect against accidents and scorpion stings. Jewellery includes necklaces, rings, anklets and bracelets. The anklets and bracelets are often hollow and filled with stones to make noise.

About the stamps
The two stamps on the postcard are definitives from a set of four, about which I wrote here.

Bedouin - Wikipedia
Arab, Najdi Bedouin of Oman - Joshua Project
Bedouin Traditional Clothing -
Bedouin Culture -
Burqa in Oman - My Oriental Passion

sender: Cresalde Jumbas Victoriano (direct swap)
sent from Muscat (Oman), on 26.02.2013 

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