This piece (‘usabah) is one part of a five-part ensemble including: dress (thawb_al_sawn) (ZI2021.500946.1 KSA), undergarments (sirwal) (ZI2021.500946.1a KSA), headdress (quba’ah) (ZI2021.500946.1b KSA), and flask (ZI2021.500946.1d KSA). This outfit was purchased together with two other full outfits, Harb tribe thawb (ZI2021.500946.2 KSA) and Hijazi bridal thawb (ZI2021.500946.3 KSA).
Once our Digital Archive launched in 2019, people began to reach out to donate, sell, or point out interesting outfits and body adornments to The Zay team. When the webinar (Traditional Costumes and Heritage of Saudi Arabia) aired in July of 2021, Mr. Zakaria Ahmed, silver and antique dealer from Yemen and close supporter of The Zay Initiative’s work, managed to source three interesting and complete outfits through his personal connections throughout the region. Though not the highest of quality, Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli was very quick to acquire and add them to augment the Saudi section of The Zay Collection.
This headband (‘usabah) is a white cotton woven strap with two central black lines of a repetitive looped pattern. The upper edge is hemmed in a white fringe and the lower edge are embellished with a line of hand stitched small metallic bells at the center.
Two black calico cotton selvedge strips are attached to the edge of the headband (‘usabah). The strips are 1.5 cm wide by 25 cm long. They help fasten the article onto the forehead by tying them together at the back.
Eighteen strands of plastic beads are dangled from either side of the metallic bells to create the jaw strap (hanaq). Traditionally, these strands would have been strung with pearls or glass beads (khurayan). Each strand is individually stitched then collectively glued on to the ‘usabah for added support.