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An Introduction to Middle Eastern Face Veils

Authors: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and Willem VogelsangCovering the Moon. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and Willem VogelsangCovering the Moon. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and Willem Vogelsang

The subject of veiling and face veils is nowadays one of the most controversial topics in the media and the public domain. Most people, and especially politicians and journalists, in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, seem to have a strong opinion about it. Many books and articles have been written about the question as to why women wear a face veil and whether or not it represents a form of oppression. In contrast, there is very little information about the face veils themselves, the various types and the regional variations.

This book describes and illustrates the history of face veils, from its pre-Islamic origins to the present day. It tells about the many regional variations, from Morocco in the far west to Central Asia in the northeast. It emphasises the role of face veils as a form of dress and identity, rather than a garment that conceals an individual's persona.


Year: 2008
ISBN: 978-90-429-1990-7
Pages: X-247 p.
Available from the TRC shop, or via Peeters, Louvain, or Amazon.

Price: 78 EURO

Click here for the table of contents and information about the authors. 

Review from: Saudi-Aramco World, Sept. 2009

In a period when the subject is apt to be polemical, it is very refreshing to find a work that concentrates on the veil as an item of costume. Covering the Moon does not limit itself to Middle Eastern veils, but ranges as far as China and Saharan Africa. The book opens with a useful summary of the history of veiling, and its great strength is its wonderful illustrations: historic prints and miniatures, photographs taken over the past century and a half and, of course, numerous images of the veils themselves, many of which are extremely decorative. The book’s liveliness is enhanced by quotations from original sources, including travelers’ accounts and several autobiographies by Muslim women. The careful analysis and naming of veil types and veil parts in different regions and periods provides a very useful glossary of terms. They observe that the traditional styles of veiling are vanishing, tending to be superseded by a global model based on Saudi practice. This makes it all the more valuable that they have recorded a very important part of the costume of the Muslim world. (Caroline Stone) (SO09)


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