Keffiyeh -

What Is A Keffiyeh? What Does It Mean? What Does It Symbolize?

Palestine gaza woman wearing black and white keffiyeh around head and holding palestine flag

A Keffiyeh (also called shemagh) is a traditional square cotton scarf worn by people of the Middle East typically over their head. They come in a variety of colors and patterns each signifying a different country or region. The popular black and white keffiyeh with comb and wing shaped pattern is associated with Palestine and is worn as a symbol of unity and solidarity for the Palestinian people. 

It's said that the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) used to wear a shemagh and its history can be dated back all the way to the time of the Sumerians and Babylonians of Mesopotamia (~3100 BC). Throughout its long history its varied in meaning, but it's thought that the shemagh was originally worn by those with high social status. As time passed, it became common for those in the working class to wear it to protect themselves from the elements.  

Fast forward again to the 1936 Arab Revolt in Palestine. The British Mandate at that time threatened the livelihood and homes of the native Palestinians sparking an outbreak. To avoid arrest, Palestinian supporters used the keffiyeh to hide their identity, wearing it over their head and face. To counter this, British authorities banned the keffiyeh but to their surprise, this motion led all Palestinians to wear the keffiyeh in a concealing manner, making it impossible to identify anyone. It was at this point that the keffiyeh became a symbol of unity and solidarity for Palestinians. This symbolism only grew as more conflicts and years passed. Palestinian President Yassir Arafat further cemented the keffiyehs meaning by constantly adorning it in public. 

Can I Wear A Keffiyeh Even Though I'm Not Palestinian?

Of course! Although the keffiyeh print and pattern isn't exclusive to Palestine, it's internationally known and associated with Palestine and it's quest for freedom. It's a symbol of Palestinian struggle, unity and solidarity. Anyone who understands the values, history, and the symbolism rooted in the keffiyeh and wishes to express their support should feel empowered to wear! 

You can further show your support for Palestine by purchasing from companies who give back to Palestinians, much like we do at Pali-Mart! 



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