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Agal (accessory)

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A Bahraini man wearing agal.

The 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 & Qatar), Mesopotamia (Iraq, eastern Syria) and southwestern Iran by Ahwazi Arabs and the Hola people, as well as in communities of the Levant (western Syria, Lebanon, Palestine & Jordan and some parts of Yemen (eastern Yemen Hadhramaut and Shabwa ).

Contents

TypesEdit

 
Black Agal worn by Bedouin Chief of Palmyra of Syria photo by Félix Bonfils in 1870

There are several types of Agal that worn based on occasions and social status

  • Black Agal (Arabic: عقال أسود‎), which is made of goat fleece
  • White Agal (Arabic: عقال أبيض‎)
  • az-Zari Agal (Arabic: عقال الزري‎), worn at national occasions and celebrations
  • al-Waber Agal (Arabic: عقال الوبر‎), which is made of camel hair (and has a light brown or white color)
  • al-Muqassab Agal (Arabic: عقال المقصب‎), often worn by the dignitaries and princes (called al-Muqassab because it is braid with gold or silver threads)
  • al-Shatfah Agal (Arabic: عقال الشطفة‎) Was a common Agal in Levant adopted by Arabs of the Arabian peninsula It's similar to al-Muqassab agal

HistoryEdit

 
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 based on antiquities including bas-reliefs and statues goes back to the ancient times. Agal's use is traced in Semitic[3] and Middle Eastern civilizations like old Babylon, Elam (modern-day southwestern Iran) artifacts such as Elamite coins and figures and even in ancient Arabia kingdoms, Phd. Ernst Herzfeld (23 July 1879 – 20 January 1948) The well known German archaeologist and Elamologist in his book "Iran In The Ancient East", in referring to the Susa bas-reliefs points to the unique head wear of Elamites that distinguished them from other nations which is an ancient Arab aqal :

Phd. Ernst Herzfeld: "These are the Susian [Elamites] regiments (which have left their trace in the shape of the 30,000 Elamite tablets of their officers)They are distinguieshed from the Median guards by their uniform, and from the Persians by their different head dress, a Kind of Arab 'aqal"[4].

In his turn Walther Hinz the other German archeologist and Elamologist points to these dark skinned Elamites of Susa basrelief who wear Agal, he describes them in his book " The Lost World of Elam" :

"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" [5]

See alsoEdit

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. Second Edition, 1989.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster definition, online edition
  3. ^ Walther Hinz German scholar of Elamite studies, lost world of Elam, Page 20-21 : In referring to dark skinned Susa basrelief with 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. ^ E. Herzfeld : Iran In The Ancient East page 271 https://ia801600.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/1/items/in.ernet.dli.2015.77483/2015.77483.Iran-In-The-Ancient-East_jp2.zip&file=2015.77483.Iran-In-The-Ancient-East_jp2/2015.77483.Iran-In-The-Ancient-East_0289.jp2&scale=8&rotate=0
  5. ^ Walther Hinz,The lost world of Elam, Page 20-21
  6. ^ Who's Who in Persia (Volume III) Arabistan, Luristan, Isfahan, Page 13: Shaikh CHASSIB (Shaikh, Sardar Ar/a) —Shaikh Khaz’al’s eldest son and heir was born in 1891. He was Governor of Ahwaz in 1912-13https://www.qdl.qa/en/archive/81055/vdc_100037071881.0x00001b
  7. ^ Who's Who in Persia (Volume III) Arabistan, Luristan page 2, https://www.qdl.qa/en/archive/81055/vdc_100037071881.0x00000e