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Author Topic:   Turbans and similar head wear
MEISSOUN posted 2/7/03 3:37 PM     Click here to send email to MEISSOUN  
Hello I am currently researching the subject of turbans, headwraps and similar head dresses. I was very impressed with all the pictures I found on this website.What I am interested in is not only the style of turbans but also the meaning behind them. Some might be just practical reasons (protection from the sun) or for decoration. But usually there is a deeper meaning behind tribal styles of clothing like indication if the wearer is young/old, married, from a certain clan or social class... For example it's quite easy to find a lot of information about the turbans of Indian men (especially from Rajasthan) as they seem to be very proud of their turbans :-) But it's difficult for other Asian regions.Does anyone have more information about any tribe and their trubans?I am also grateful for help with African headwraps.Thanks in advance MEISSOUN

Sandra Shamis posted 2/7/03 10:40 PM     Click here to send email to Sandra Shamis  
Hi, When Pamela has a minute she'll probably answer in more detail, but let me just add that yes, many SEAsian hilltribes have turbans and other head gear, often for both men and women. In Southern Thailand, the Muslim population wear head gear signifying their religious status. Just recently the hijab has become more popular, and many girls wear a large white headdress with jeans. Thais and Laos also use turbans as ethnic markers, but only while in traditional clothing for formal events. Check Pamela's reading list; perhaps others can provide additional information.
posted 2/8/03 10:58 PM     Click here to send email to Pamela  
Hi, Certainly in South East Asia and S W China head coverings are used to indicate various kinds of status: married/unmarried or reached marriageable age. They can also indicate wealth - this tends not to be turbans so much as headcoverings adorned with silver (today often aluminium and not silver). If the turbans are embroidered they can also indicate the sewing skills of a girl or woman (and her worth as a prospective bride). The Mien have traditionally had interesting structures which the brides wear on their heads covered by a plain cloth or a very beautifully embroidered rectangular cloth. (see "The Yao: The Mien and Mun Yao in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand" by Jess G. Pourret, full details on the Thailand bibliography page of the tribaltextiles.info site) You have asked a relatively simple question which has a myriad of answers depending on the individual tribal group. Georgia Scott, the Art Director, The Arts page, The New York Times is currently writing a book on headwraps and headscarves that are worn around the world. I am not sure when it will be published but the manuscript was due in end Dec 02 and layout end Jan 03. Georgia has just taken a year's sabbatical to travel to research the book as she is so fascinated by just the topic you have raised! I am afraid that I have little knowledge of African textiles - but there are certainly some wonderful headcoverings that I have seen worn by both African men and African woman. I wish you luck in your research. Much of the literature shown on the tribaltextiles.info site has references throughout the descriptions on tribes and textiles to when different textiles are worn and any symbolic function. Pamela

Susan Stem posted 2/14/03 2:47 AM     Click here to send email to Susan Stem  
Indonesia also has some interesting and beautiful headcoverings: I have several of the silk and songket squares from Palembang in S. Sumatra that are worn by men as a turbanlike headcovering. I was told that one in particular is worn by widowers when they want to go out and attract a new wife! I'll try to get those photographed and up for you to see. Also, in Java they use similar square cloths, but in cotton and decorated with the batik resist dye method, sometimes with Arabic calligraphy. I'll look for the references and get back to you. Good luck! You've chosen a fascinating topic to research.

Sandra Shamis posted 2/16/03 9:15 PM     Click here to send email to Sandra Shamis  
Hi,The Karen males on both sides of the Thai-Burmese border wear turbans to protect their luxurious hair. They seem to have a hair fetish, washing their hair daily and rubbing coconut oil on their locks, combing and stroking them for long periods of time. They then cover their hair in a turban to protect it from the elements; as far as I know they are the only group who use turbans this way. Also, many Burmese Karen have become Christians, and I'm not sure anyone in this minority group adheres to tribal traditions.
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