Burqa is the veil worn by women in Oman. It covers the lower part of the face — from mouth to chin — and partially covers the forehead.
“The size and shape of the Burqa, the facial mask, differs from region to region and it comes in different colours, such as yellow, red, green, purple and black. It is predominantly made of fabric known as Sheil,” explains Nadia Al Shamsi, Oman’s well-known jewellery designer, who learnt the art of making burqa from her mother.
“Girls begin to use burqa at the age of 14 or once they get engaged. It is part of the Omani tradition, which is dying slowly as women replaced burqa with other face make-up. But I still believe the mask enhances the beauty of women,” she asserts. Nadia produces masks in different colours in order to enhance its fashion appeal. “Being an artist, I would like to convince women that burqa is as fashionable as any other modern outfit. It helps preserve the Omani identity,” she adds.
Like any other traditional Omani attire or jewellery, regional variations can be found in the design, size and colour of the masks. “People use different masks in Al Dhahirah, Buraimi, Batinah, Sharqiyah, and Dhofar regions,” she says.
According to Nadia, burqa makers began to use Sheil fabric very recently. “Earlier, they used white fabric and dye it for specific colours. Burqa makers began to opt for Sheil as it is available in different colours.”
With more women engaging in manufacturing burqa, its availability has increased all over the Sultanate. “Burqa is available in all souqs across the Sultanate.
Earlier the cost used to be OMR1. Now, burqas cost OMR2.500 to OMR5 and the pricing depends on the design.”
STYLE AND COLOUR OF BURQA
The style and colour of burqa vary from region to region. In Buraimi and Musandam, women wear thin, gold coloured face masks. Women in Sharqiyah and Sharqiyah Sands use the same colour, but the masks are made of thicker material. Another marked difference is that the burqa is not flat like the northern style, but forms a kind of beak in the middle. In Al Wusta region, women prefer burqas made of thick fabric.
BURQA – THE CURRENT TREND
These days, Omani burqa is not just worn by Bedouin girls. Women in the cities wear it during special occasions like engagements and weddings. It has also developed into a fashion item.