Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, The Zay Initiative founder was initially contacted on Instagram by Mariam Khalfan Mohammed Khalifah al Maydi al Badwawi, who offered to volunteer and help source old artifacts from the northern Emirates for the Zay Collection. Mariam has been an invaluable addition to our team, as she connects easily with people and patiently explains our role, convincing others to help the cause. This (kandurah_arabiyah khwar_zari) is one of her finds.
Mariam came across this article together with a few more from an elderly person by the name of Yousif Juma’ Saeed al Ka’bi, who is in his late seventies and lives in a remote area in the valley of al Qor in Ras al Khaimah. He had forgotten them saved in an old trunk dating back to the time of his marriage in 1979 and The Zay Initiative was lucky acquire the whole lot.
This skullcap is commercially crocheted or knitted with soft white cotton to help hold the head cloth cover (ghutrah) in place, and also keep natural hair oils from spoiling the (ghutrah). While the net-like holes allow preservation and help cool the scalp. Older versions were probably knitted by the women but modern ones are mostly commercially imported.
The terms (gahfiyah), (shashiyah) and (tagiyah) are used interchangeably generally depending on the region, however more accurately, the first two refer to the pierced (net-like) crochet or knitted format and the later term is more general and refers to any cloth, bowl-like cap. Sometimes poetic or talismanic phrases, or geometric decorations and symbols are woven or embroidered on. It is possible that since these skullcaps are more visible during pilgrimage (Al_haj), as nothing is worn on top of them that in English they tend to be referred to as “prayer caps”.