Agal (accessory)

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A Bahraini man wearing agal.

An agal (Arabic: عِقَال‎, ʿiqāl: "bond" or "rope"), also spelled iqal, egal or igal, is an accessory worn usually by Arab men. It is a black cord, worn doubled, used to keep a ghutrah in place on the wearer's head.[1] It is traditionally made of goat hair.[2]

It is usually worn in the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar), Mesopotamia and eastern Syria and southwestern Iran by Ahwazi Arabs and the Hola people, as well as in communities of the Levant (western Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan and some parts of Yemen (eastern Yemen Hadhramaut and Shabwa ).

Head sculpture of a Babylonian man (ca. late 8th–early 7th century B.C), wearing what appears to be a keffiyah and agal, Metropolitan Museum, New York

The use of the agal and keffiyah is dated through antiquities including bas-reliefs and statues going back to ancient times. The agal is traced in Semitic[3] and Middle Eastern civilizations based on old Babylon artifacts such as Elamite coins[4] and figures and even in ancient Arabian kingdoms. In his book Iran In The Ancient East, the archaeologist and Elamologist Ernst Herzfeld, in referring to the Susa bas-reliefs, points to the ancient agal as unique head wear of Elamites that distinguished them from other nations.

Persian and Elamite soldiers

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. Second Edition, 1989.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster definition, online edition
  3. ^ Walther Hinz, Lost World of Elam, pp. 20-21: In referring to dark-skinned Susa in a bas-relief wearing agal: "These must be Elamites from the hinterland. Even today dark-skinned men, in no way negroid, are often to be seen in Khuzistan. They consider themselves for the most part as 'Arabs', and speak 'Arabic' among themselves. It seems likely that the population even of Ancient Elam was a mixed one, consisting of dark-skinned aboriginals of uncertain race and of 'Semites', who had infiltrated from Mesopotamia in repeated incursions since the Akkad period".
  4. ^ Elamite coins