Monday, 3 May 2010

The importance of headgear!

After all the discussion recently about the wearing or not of the Moslem hijab, with imams preaching about it in mosques almost all over Spain, I came across some interesting comments about headgear in the local press. It even included a series of photos showing one of the traditional ways of fastening the pano, the Galician headscarf which is part of the “national” costume. I was somewhat surprised at how very similar it is to the hijab. Mind you, there are only so many ways you can tie a headscarf so it's not really so surprising.

It appears that traditionally men were supposed to remove their hats in church while women were meant to keep their heads covered. Now, I
can remember that being the case in protestant churches in England as well, except that as women started to wear hats rather than headscarves there was some talk about there being too much competition to see who could wear the finest, fanciest hat! So what may or may not have begun as a way of covering women's hair and preventing them from distracting the men from their prayers became an even greater form of distraction.

Some people even go so far as to say that the headscarf was a means of suppressing womankind, making them conform to rules and regulations imposed by men: the same argument which one hears about the hijab. In some cases women were expected to have their heads covered whenev
er they left the house. (But then, my grandmother felt that if she left the house without her hat she might as well go out naked!) What is clear is that the headscarf was associated with mourning, with clearly demarcated periods dictating which colour of headscarf could be worn at different stages of luto: darkest black to begin with and going through shades of purple and mauve.

The way of knotting the headscarf was also significant. It could vary according to whether the woman was married or single and different regions had different styles of tying their scarves. And sometimes the scarf would be worn in a particular way to make it more comfortable for women to carry bundles, boxes and buckets on their heads!

One explanation for the decline in the wearing of the headscarf is that returning emigrant women, having got used to different ways while working in other countries, never got back into the habit of wearing the headscarf when they returned to Galicia. Other people say,
however, that the main cause is the ubiquitous peaked cap, baseball style, typically bearing the logo of some company or product.

This is also blamed for the demise of the boina, the black beret which you do still see (mostly older) chaps wearing around here - and in almost any part of northern Spain. Apparently the baseball cap stays on better in wind or when you have to bend down to work in the fields. But the older gentlemen complain that the boina is becoming hard to find. Supply and demand, I suppose. If fewer people are buying them, then fewer shops will sell them.

I am quite a fan of the beret myself and have a collection in a range of colours which I wear through the winter time. However, I don't suppose the ones I buy from shops like H & M or Sfera will really be satisfactory for a good old gallego traditionalist.

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