Photo : Ali Al Shehabi
Yo I definitely jumped down a rabbit hole with this one. Reading some ancient cultural article about a tribe called the 'Shihuh', I stumbled across a stunning image of an Arabian woman rockin' a distinctly shaped mask lookin' like it was crafted from metal. Rather than a fashion accessory it looked like a visor meant for battle. The mask appeared malleable, and had very pointed feature; rather ill.
The description labelled the mask a 'battula' and that was the departure point to bedlam. There are almost as many versions of the mask's name and origins, as there are styles! Vogue Arabia references it in an article as 'batoola' or 'batula'. In said article it states the Battoulah was worn to protect one from the harsh desert climate of the Gulf, and, "as garment of modesty... worn by young females (before marriage) as a sign of coming into age."
In another article, a rather convoluted one by the Daily Mail, it asserts the origin of this mask, with it's moustache-like design, was "designed centuries ago to fool invaders, so they would mistake women for male soldiers." It also includes the Battoulah mask together with another embroidered mask under a 'boregheh' description, but their assertion stands alone from other research and I am skeptical. Do check the article for the best photos of masks in general from French photographer, Eric Lafforgue though, worth your while!
Aesthetically, these masks make me think of some 300 Sparta shxt, but worn by women! While the look is metallic, the actual fabrication is actually said to be cloth or leather! Would be interesting to find out how they create such an appearance.
The Battoulah mask has also been popularized by none other than the Queen B herself, Beyoncé, and various street art murals, and exhibitions. To me it looks like a great unisex piece and a different look than other Muslim head coverings. Dope to see the Arabian cultures of the Southern Gulf been been stylin'!
If you have more info to share about the fabrication of these masks drop us a line in these comments. Or tell us which one you feelin'.
Photo : Eric Lafforgue
Or is it a burqa? Da fxck!