Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland – becomes a big issue with the Crisis of World Order. Especially since the 1980s, when it caused massive population migrations. The women are in a dilemma between the rooted traditions of the world from which they escaped and fitting into the new environment. In this case, it is primarily the integration of the Muslim woman into the new, modern environment. Changes are also imminent in the homeland. Somewhere conservatism is growing and somewhere new influences are being accepted.

Kamile Erdemir from Isparta, Turkey, came in Germany in 1980

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Mrs. Kamile Erdemir from Isparta, Turkey has been living in Germany since 1980. Now she wears a headscarf as an Islamic believer. Earlier, in the Homeland, she covered herself after the elder women in the family. In Germany, she did not regularly wear a headscarf. And that regardless of her religious consciousness. A family from Turkey advised her against wearing a headscarf. Considering that, as the wife of a Turkish teacher, she belongs to the local Elites among compatriots.

Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland – Mrs. Erdemir, being confused, consulted her husband. When asked if she should take off [or put on] the headscarf, he replied that it was her business and her sin. Then (in 1985) she took off her headscarf for a year. However, torn apart, she decided to seek help from the Koran. From there, she concluded that her real reason for taking off her headscarf was shame in front of others, not her belief. She tied the scarf again.

Otherwise, she thinks that her scarf mostly bothers Turks, because they think women with headscarves are reactionary. She doesn’t agree with it at all. As I understood it, as a sanctified Muslim, K. Erdemir wants to reconcile her ambitions with her faith. Thus she points out that Islam also supports the development of an open mind. And by covering herself, tends to achieve herself in areas outside of religion. At the same time, so covered, she feels like a good manner Muslim woman.

Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland: A case with a girl from Nalbant village near Adana, Turkey

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A girl in Nalbant village, Adana, Turkey, in the middle up, took part in process of tying “serendez”

A girl from the village of Nalbant near Adana provided full assistance and cooperation to the expert team of the Women’s Museum in Firth. She took part in tying scarves in the “serendez” style. Her elderly neighbors performed the procedure. Here the uncovered head usually wears a scarf home when she cooks, kneads, and bakes bread. She does this for the sake of food hygiene, but also for her hair. While she’s cleaning the apartment, the scarf protects her hair from dust, or while she’s cooking, it absorbs smells. Constantly in some kind of work, she is used to wearing a scarf. So she forgets it and may go to some neighbor’s house. On the other hand, if the scarf is worn for a long time, it presses the hair and fuses it. So hair is no longer naturally lush and beautiful.

Clearly, for a young girl, a headscarf is an excellent protection for her hair at work. While in her free time, takes it off for going out with the company or for celebrations. As she says: “then I wash and dry my hair and put on nice clips”. Some girls wear scarves with traditional “oja” beads when they dress up for a wedding or a visit. They choose a scarf to match the blouse or dress because it is fashionable, as they saw in the city (1985).

Hanife Yilmaz lives in a village near Kozan in Turkey

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Woman in Kozan wears headscarves tied in a “kundak” fashion

She clearly describes the headscarves worn by women in her area: “In my village, girls wear triangular headscarves or square ones folded and tied in a “kundak” manner. They tie under the back of the head or above, on the top of the head.“ Some don’t wear them at all. Today, everything is different depending on the family anyway. In most cases, the family fulfills the desire of a young girl to make her happy. Many like to wear a decoratively wrapped “kundak” style. As a girl, even Hanife did not know how to tie it properly.

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Detail from the exhibition: “serendez” tying of a married woman’s headscarf

In public life, married women only wear a “serendez”. For elder women, tying headscarves is a constant obligation, because they must never show their hair. They tie scarves in a “doima” style. It is similar to the already mentioned “serendez” manner.

But an older woman will draw her headscarf even lower so that her forehead is even more covered. There is also an additional scarf over this binding. It is usually a narrow white scarf made of thin cloth with special decorative lace. This is a lace called “oja” [the eye] made of colorful glass beads. It is usually, the hem crocheted on the edges of the scarf.

Such an additional headscarf is very useful in tying a woman’s head, whatever variant it may be, a “kundak”, “serendez”, or “doima” style. Apart from decorations, the lace stripe is practical because tightens the veil well. Women in the field tie a headscarf to protect their faces from the bright sun, as well as noses and mouths, to avoid inhaling dust. It is regular in the field, and mandatory in the cotton factory. Research in 1986/87.

I wear a headscarf, or not and how? The big question for the Middle Eastern and North African women

Vijam Karaki, Damascus Syria Nuremberg since 2015.


Ms. Karaki, from Damascus, Syria, who has been living in Nuremberg since 2015, told her story: “I started wearing a headscarf when I hit puberty, just following my mother and older relatives. At first, she gave me her scarves to wear, because she wanted me to be sure about my decision. Later we went shopping for me. In Germany, she had no problems because of the headscarf, except for curious questions. Like, how come I’m accentuating my eyes with makeup but hiding my hair?

Regardless of the opinions of others, she claims that she perceives wearing a headscarf as personal freedom to do what she wants with her body (in 2022).

Seeing Marlena Waldthausen’s photograph “A joyous Syrian refugee graduates high school” we knew about so rare happy cases. In the photo, Malak Boubaki is right, with her mother and sister. She is holding a diploma on her graduation day in Nuremberg, in 2020. Happened five years after fleeing Syria in search of safety.

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Joyous Syrian refugee who graduates high school holds a diploma on her happy day in Nuremberg, 2020.

Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland: Mahasin Mohamed Ahmed from Wad Madani (Sudan) lives in Nuremberg since 2000.

As looked up at the older woman in the family, she wears a headscarf since puberty. The mother warned about the importance of the decision, which must be her own. In Sudan, all women are not required to wear headscarves. For example, her two sisters do not wear.

At the time of her arrival in Germany, she was wearing a khimar headscarf, which covered her neck, shoulders, chest, and back, set along with a long “abaya” dress.

But after September 11, 2001, as such clothing became associated with terrorism, she stopped wearing the abaya. It is also connected with practical reasons. Due to its length, the abaya is unsuitable for movement in urban conditions. In this outfit, women need to be more careful in the subway, on escalators, and in similar situations. Later, she also replaced the khimar with a shorter scarf. In fact, she wears this custom outfit, believing that it encourages good behavior and protects a woman from temptation (in 2022).

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Illustration of dress code, from S. Gabralla’s text, “Modesty in Sudan Part II”

When M.M. Ahmad came to Nuremberg (2020) in Sudan, the dress of a true modest Muslim woman was at the center of interest. A freelance journalist, Sara Gabralla wrote about it in the 3-part series „Modesty in Sudan“, including a dress code illustration

Fatma Jamal is from Ethiopia, living in Nuremberg since 2016.

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Poster for the project ” Women’s headscarf as a cultural code”

Ms. Jamal from Ethiopia, living in Nuremberg since 2016, looks like a fashion icon. She has been wearing a scarf since her childhood ages. And was never aware of the religious function, nor does she wear it for that reason. Actually, as a self-confident young person, spontaneously continued the tradition of women in her family.

Now enjoys her own creation which combines two attractive elements, features of the native tradition. She decorated a traditional scarf with strings of beads in the colors of the flag of the Oromo region. Women usually wear them around the leg, arms, earrings, and similar.

This young woman considers her design with the scarf as her own personal style mark. Her mother makes strings of beads for her and regularly delivers them to Germany. But, incidentally notices with reproach, the local resistance towards women with headscarves. Assures that her headscarf means equal to her as a shirt does to the respondent. Without a scarf feels naked (2022).

Women’s costume of the Oromo people from Ethiopia, introduced in Nuremberg 2022.

In Nuremberg, March of this year: In the photo (first from the left) is obviously, F. Jamal in the ceremonial costume of her Nation.

Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland – here: Mrs. Elisabeth from Chad, a teacher in N’Djamena

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Elisabeth from Chad, a teacher in N’Djamena, was a participant in the “Art of Living” Congress in 1995. in Nuremberg. All time wore panje outfit as a symbol of her culture. It is a scarf over five meters in length, traditionally blue in color. The long cloth covers the head, shoulders, and body. The amount of this clothing increases being a mandatory gift from a husband at the end of Ramadan. Custom announces the couple’s happiness in the environment. Otherwise, may happen that the woman leaves the family.

The clothing set “panje” can include several separate pieces of canvas.

Usually, the same material is in shades of blue, decoratively dyed with the batik technique. In addition to the headscarf, there is also a huge piece that wraps the body, and the third, a cloth that hangs on the shoulder. It can serve as a “carrier”, usually for a child. Inside the house, the head does not have to be covered, but a piece of cloth is always at hand for the woman. When someone enters, he claps his hands, as a sign to the woman who quickly grabs a scarf to cover herself. Research from 1994.

In the Image, on the right, the woman dance in a clothes panje, wrapped around her whole body. Shut on the occasion of the final celebration of Ramadan.


Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland: Tunisian women’s clothing, Midoun Women’s Association

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The traditional outfit “Safsari”, today is usually worn by older women
Plain weave with basic multicolored stripes; brocade motifs with an additional weft

Safsari is the traditional Tunisian veil, of which I already put a photo in the previous post. It is thrown over the head and wraps the whole body with it. It is usually cream-colored and made of cotton, satin, or silk. Depending on the region of Tunisia. Clothing can also be very colorful. The sample on display is woven from fuller unbleached cotton in the natural color of the fiber. Ornamentation and technique are common for this type of cloth. Interweave canvas with basic multicolored stripes. On the wider, vertical strip, there are brocade motifs, with an additional weft.

Women wear safsari in traditional modesty, to avoid the male gaze. In modern Tunisia, the safsari is usually still worn by the grandmother, while her daughter does not, and by no means is the granddaughter. Possibly, as a manifestation of folklorism.

Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland: Ms. Ava Ewe and her headscarf, Burkina Faso (West Africa)

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A series of photographs with Awa Eve was taken in 1996 in the town of Nouna

Awa comes from a Muslim family, she converted to Catholicism when she married. She completed a tailoring course at the missionary school. Mrs. Ava shows the types of tying the scarf. With the help of her fourteen-year-old son, she quickly shows many models of tying headscarves by West African women. The exhibited doll-mannequin shows one of the typical combinations of a dress and headband made of the same fabric.

One of many Awa Eve`s models of tying headscarves among West African women (doll-mannequin)
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Back of the same model, at the exhibition “Scarf as a cultural signifier”

Museum researchers have not been able to figure out all the techniques for tying the scarf. Nor do they understand the cultural background of all variants. Because almost every woman, according to age and taste, practices a different way of tying. There are no choice differences in the material or tying techniques in the head covering of Muslim and Catholic women. Young girls of both religions are rejecting fancifully tied headscarves and embracing the fashion of braids with artificial hair.

Here, I finish the second Covering women Immigrants and at Homeland – of three parts of the story about the woman and her scarf. The next post, on the coverage of Latin American Indian women, develops from the presentation of the expert team of the Women’s Museum in Firth.

Here we are at the finish of the second part. Next, I’ll be posting the final part of the scarf mini-series.
Thank you for your attention,
Sincerely, Branka on Textiles

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