The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


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.

Aaron Chapman
Vancouver, Canada


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