Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli spotted this article (burgu) at an antique dealer and acquired it for The Zay collection.
The merchant originally bought this mask (burgu) from the Nubian market in Arish, Egypt. She recalls how the women surrounded her and dressed her in the Sinai dress, saying: “The Nubian women were performers, so I sat on the ground, and they draped me with one thing after another. Each time I would look in the mirror they would remark: (gamilah awi) very beautiful. It was a fun day”.
This face mask (burgu) is worn by married Bedouin women from Arish of North Sinai, Egypt.
This red cotton mask (burgu) consists of a veil that hangs from a narrow strand attached to a headband that circles the head at the forehead. It spreads gradually, covering the nose, mouth, and neck areas completely. The eyes, parts of the forehead, and all the cheeks remain visible. The mask is rectangular-shaped folded at the centre with a stitched down boxed pleat at the fold, creating a stiff ridge. Two white and navy woven loops are attached to the headband of the mask. The strips are 1.5 cm wide by 25 cm long. They help fasten the article onto the face by tying them together at the back.
The headband is made of white cotton and decorated with a red cross-stitch embroidery in zigzags made up of smaller zigzags. It is also embellished with two rows of three metal coins with dangling pendants made of colourful glass, coral, and wooden beads ending with an orange cotton fringe. The colours of the beads include red, orange, purple, brown and black.
Two gold metal coins are attached to the upper corners of the rectangular veil. The upper half of the veil is embroidered with six black lines. The other half is embellished with rows of silver metal stamped coins that extend vertically to the hem of the veil. In the midst of the stamped coins, there is one Saudi Arabian copper-nickel (½ ghirsh) dating back to the Islamic date of 1346, which is the year 1928 in the Gregorian calendar, in addition to two silver Ottoman coins of unknown dates. Attached to the lower hem of the veil are four dangling seashells.
The Sinai mask (burgu) is usually sewn with thin cotton and sometimes silk. It is embroidered at the forehead with a cross-stitch of colourful woollen then threads. If the woman is capable, silver coins are used to adorn her mask (burgu). If she is wealthy, she is keen to decorate it with gold coins. In this case, the cords on both sides of the temple are decorated with precious stones such as coral and onyx. When the burgu wears out, the women transfer the coins on it to a new one.