January 2, 2001
Woman with metal half-mask
I have a question that I have had trouble finding an answer to. Perhaps
you can help? Or direct me to someone versed in Islamic culture that can
help, as my Islamic knowledge is not very good.
About two months ago, I happened to be flying from Amsterdam to Minneapolis
and I noticed a group (I suspect a family) of Saudis on the same flight
as myself. If I remember correctly in glancing at their passports they
were Saudis, anyway...
There were a number of women who were all dressed in the long black
gown-like chador (although their faces were not covered completely.)
One of the women, however, sported a thin metal frame on her face --
at least it looked metal. It was something she wore under the chador, a
thin straight strip that went down the middle of her face from her forehead
to her chin. But at the bottom the thin strip spread out left and right
at 90 degrees to basically cover the bottom of her face and seemingly more
specifically the mouth. It did not cover her mouth -- she could still talk,
but it hid a certain portion of her face.
Have you seen this before? Is it merely decorative, or does it have
some specific meaning? Is it common? I had never seen anything like it
before. I somewhat regret that I didn't just simply go up and ask her politely
what was the significance of it.