A veil is an article of clothing or hanging cloth that is intended to cover some part of the "head or "face, or an object of some significance. Veiling has a long history in European, Asian, and African societies. The practice has been prominent in different forms in "Judaism, "Christianity and "Islam. The practice of veiling is especially associated with women and sacred objects, though in some cultures it is men rather than women who are expected to wear a veil. Besides its enduring religious significance, veiling continues to play a role in some modern secular contexts, such as wedding customs.
Elite women in ancient Mesopotamia and in the Greek and Persian empires wore the veil as a sign of respectability and high status. The earliest attested reference to veiling is found a Middle Assyrian law code dating from between 1400 and 1100 BC. Assyria had explicit "sumptuary laws detailing which women must veil and which women must not, depending upon the woman's class, rank, and occupation in society. Female slaves and prostitutes were forbidden to veil and faced harsh penalties if they did so. Veiling was thus not only a marker of aristocratic rank, but also served to "differentiate between 'respectable' women and those who were publicly available". The veiling of matrons was also customary in ancient Greece. Between 550 and 323 B.C.E, prior to Christianity, respectable women in classical Greek society were expected to seclude themselves and wear clothing that concealed them from the eyes of strange men.
The "Mycenaean Greek term 𐀀𐀢𐀒𐀺𐀒, a-pu-ko-wo-ko, possibly meaning "headband makers" or "craftsmen of horse veil", and written in "Linear B syllabic script, is also attested since ca. 1300 BC. In "ancient Greek the word for veil was καλύπτρα (kalyptra; "Ionic Greek: καλύπτρη, kalyptrē; from the verb καλύπτω, kalyptō, "I cover").
Classical Greek and Hellenistic statues sometimes depict Greek women with both their head and face covered by a veil. Caroline Galt and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones have both argued from such representations and literary references that it was commonplace for women (at least those of higher status) in ancient Greece to cover their hair and face in public. Roman women were expected to wear veils as a symbol of the husband's authority over his wife; a married woman who omitted the veil was seen as withdrawing herself from marriage. In 166 BC, consul Sulpicius Gallus divorced his wife because she had left the house unveiled, thus allowing all to see, as he said, what only he should see. Unmarried girls normally didn't veil their heads, but matrons did so to show their modesty and chastity, their pudicitia. Veils also protected women against the evil eye, it was thought.
A veil called flammeum was the most prominent feature of the costume worn by the bride at "Roman weddings. The veil was a deep yellow color reminiscent of a candle flame. The flammeum also evoked the veil of the Flaminica Dialis, the Roman priestess who could not divorce her husband, the "high priest of Jupiter, and thus was seen as a good omen for lifelong fidelity to one man. The Romans apparently thought of the bride as being "clouded over with a veil" and connected the verb nubere (to be married) with nubes, the word for cloud.
Intermixing of populations resulted in a convergence of the cultural practices of Greek, Persian, and Mesopotamian empires and the Semitic peoples of the Middle East. Veiling and seclusion of women appear to have established themselves among Jews and Christians, before spreading to urban Arabs of the upper classes and eventually among the urban masses. In the rural areas it was common to cover the hair, but not the face.
For many centuries, until around 1175, "Anglo-Saxon and then "Anglo-Norman women, with the exception of young unmarried girls, wore veils that entirely covered their hair, and often their necks up to their chins (see "wimple). Only in the "Tudor period (1485), when "hoods became increasingly popular, did veils of this type become less common. This depended greatly from one country to the other. In Italy, veils, including face veils, were worn in some regions until the 1970s. Women in southern Italy often covered their heads to show that they were modest, well-behaved and pious. They generally wore a cuffia (cap), then the fazzoletto (kerchief/head scarves) a long triangular or rectangular piece of cloth that could be tied in various way, and sometimes covered the whole face except the eyes, sometimes bende (lit. swaddles, bandages) or a wimple underneath too.
For centuries, European women have worn sheer veils, but only under certain circumstances. Sometimes a veil of this type was draped over and pinned to the "bonnet or hat of a woman in "mourning, especially at the "funeral and during the subsequent period of "high mourning". They would also have been used, as an alternative to a "mask, as a simple method of hiding the identity of a woman who was traveling to meet a lover, or doing anything she didn't want other people to find out about. More pragmatically, veils were also sometimes worn to protect the complexion from sun and wind damage (when un-tanned skin was fashionable), or to keep dust out of a woman's face, much as the "keffiyeh is used today.
In "Judaism, "Christianity and "Islam the concept of covering the head is or was associated with propriety and modesty. Most traditional depictions of the "Virgin Mary, the mother of "Christ, show her veiled. During the "Middle Ages most European married women covered their hair rather than their face, with a variety of styles of "wimple, kerchiefs and headscarfs. Veiling, covering the hair rather than the face, was a common practice with church-going women until the 1960s, Catholic women typically using "lace, and a number of very traditional churches retain the custom. Bonnets were the rule in non-Catholic churches. Lace face-veils are still often worn by female relatives at funerals in some Catholic countries.
Christian Byzantine literature expressed rigid norms pertaining to veiling of women, which have been influenced by Persian traditions, although there is evidence to suggest that they differed significantly from actual practice. Since Islam identified with the monotheistic religions practiced in the Byzantine and "Sassanian empires, in the aftermath of the "early Muslim conquests veiling of women was adopted as an appropriate expression of Qur'anic ideals regarding modesty and piety. Veiling gradually spread to upper-class Arab women, and eventually it became widespread among Muslim women in cities throughout the Middle East. Veiling of Arab Muslim women became especially pervasive under Ottoman rule as a mark of rank and exclusive lifestyle, and Istanbul of the 17th century witnessed differentiated dress styles that reflected geographical and occupational identities. Women in rural areas were much slower to adopt veiling because the garments interfered with their work in the fields. Since wearing a veil was impractical for working women, "a veiled woman silently announced that her husband was rich enough to keep her idle." By the 19th century, upper-class urban Muslim and Christian women in Egypt wore a garment which included a head cover and a burqa ("muslin cloth that covered the lower nose and the mouth). Up to the first half of the twentieth century, rural women in the Maghreb and Egypt put on a face veil when they visited urban areas, "as a sign of civilization". The practice of veiling gradually declined in much of the Muslim world during the 20th century before making a comeback in recent decades.
Although religion is a common reason for choosing to veil, the practice also reflects political and personal conviction, so that it can serve as a medium through which personal character can be revealed.
Among the "Tuareg, "Songhai, "Hausa, and "Fulani of "West Africa, women do not traditionally wear the veil, while men do. Male veiling was also common among the Berber "Sanhaja tribes. The North African male veil, which covers the mouth and sometimes part of the nose, is called "litham is Arabic and "tagelmust by the Tuareg. Tuareg boys start wearing the veil at the onset of puberty and veiling is regarded as a mark of manhood. It is considered improper for a man to appear unveiled in front of elders, especially those from his wife's family.
Ancient African rock engravings depicting human faces with eyes but no mouth or nose suggest that the origins of litham are not only pre-Islamic but even pre-historic. Wearing of the litham is not viewed as a religious requirement, although it was apparently believed to provide magical protection against evil forces. In practice, the litham has served as protection from the dust and extremes of temperature characterizing the desert environment. Its use by the "Almoravids gave it a political significance during their conquests.
In some parts of "India, "Pakistan, "Bangladesh, and "Nepal, men wear a "sehra on their wedding day. This is a male veil covering the whole face and neck. The sehra is made from either flowers, beads, tinsel, dry leaves, or coconuts. The most common sehra is made from fresh marigolds. The groom wears this throughout the day concealing his face even during the wedding ceremony. In Northern India today you can see the groom arriving on a horse with the sehra wrapped around his head.
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Biblical references include:
Note: Genesis 20:16, which the "King James Version renders as: "And unto "Sarah "he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a "covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved" has been interpreted in one source as implied advice to Sarah to conform to a supposed custom of married women, and wear a complete veil, covering the eyes as well as the rest of the face, but the phrase is generally taken to refer not to Sarah's eyes, but to the eyes of others, and to be merely a metaphorical expression concerning vindication of Sarah ("NASB, "RSV), silencing criticism ("GWT), allaying suspicions ("NJB), righting a wrong ("BBE, "NLT), covering or recompensing the problem caused her ("NIV, New Life Version, "NIRV, "TNIV, "JB), a sign of her innocence ("ESV, "CEV, "HCSB). The final phrase in the verse, which KJV takes to mean "she was reproved", is taken by almost all other versions to mean instead "she was vindicated", and the word "הוא", which KJV interprets as "he" (Abraham), is interpreted as "it" (the money). Thus, the general view is that this passage has nothing to do with material veils.
After the "destruction of the Temple in "Jerusalem, the "synagogues that were established took the design of the "Tabernacle as their plan. The "Ark of the Law, which contains the "scrolls of the "Torah, is covered with an embroidered curtain or veil called a "parokhet. (See also "below regarding the veiling – and unveiling – of the bride.)
Among "Christian churches which have a "liturgical tradition, several different types of veils are used. These veils are often symbolically tied to the veils in the "Tabernacle in the wilderness and in "Solomon's Temple. The purpose of these veils was not so much to obscure as to shield the most sacred things from the eyes of sinful men. In "Solomon's Temple the veil was placed between the "Inner Sanctuary" and the ""Holy of Holies". According to the New Testament, this veil was torn when "Jesus Christ died on the cross.
Traditionally, in Christianity, women were enjoined to cover their heads in church, just as it was (and still is) customary for men to remove their hat as a sign of respect. This practice is based on 1 Corinthians 11:4–16, where "St. Paul writes:
Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God ("New American Bible translation)
In many traditional "Eastern Orthodox Churches, and in some very conservative "Protestant churches as well, the custom continues of women covering their heads in church (or even when praying privately at home).
In the "Roman Catholic Church, it was customary in most places before the 1960s for women to wear a headcovering in the form of a scarf, cap, veil or hat when entering a church. The practice now continues in isolated parishes where it is seen as a matter of etiquette, courtesy, tradition or fashionable elegance. The Declaration Inter-Insigniores by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has made it clear that the practice of headcovering for women was a matter of ecclesiastical discipline and not of Divine law.
The wearing of a headcovering was for the first time mandated as a universal rule for the "Latin Rite by the "Code of Canon Law of 1917, which code was abrogated by the advent of the present (1983) Code of Canon Law. Traditionalist Catholics still follow it, generally as a matter of custom and biblically approved aptness; some also suppose that St. Paul's directive is in full force today as an ordinance of its own right, despite the teaching of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith's pronouncement on the matter.
A veil over the hair rather than the face forms part of the headdress of some "orders of "nuns or "religious sisters; this is why a woman who becomes a nun is said "to take the veil". In medieval times married women normally covered their hair outside the house, and a nun's veil is based on secular medieval styles, often reflecting the fashion of widows in their attire. In many institutes, a white veil is used as the "veil of probation" during "novitiate, and a dark veil for the "veil of profession" once religious vows are taken; the color scheme varies with the color scheme of the habit of the order. A veil of "consecration, longer and fuller, is used by some orders for final profession of "solemn vows.
Nuns are the female counterparts of "monks, and many "monastic orders of women have retained the veil. Regarding other institutes of religious sisters who are not "cloistered but who work as teachers, nurses or in other "active" apostolates outside of a nunnery or monastery, some wear the veil, while some others have abolished the use of the veil, and a few never had a veil to start with, but used a bonnet-style headdress as in the case of "St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
The fullest versions of the nun's veil cover the top of the head and flow down around and over the shoulders. In western Christianity, it does not wrap around the neck or face. In those orders that retain one, the starched white covering about the face neck and shoulders is known as a "wimple and is a separate garment.
The Catholic Church has revived the ancient practice of allowing women to be consecrated by their bishop as a "consecrated virgin. These women are set aside as sacred persons who belong only to Christ and the service of the church. The veil is a bridal one, because the velatio virginum primarily signified the newly consecrated virgin as the Bride of Christ. At one point this veil was called the flammeum because it was supposed to remind the virgin of the indissoluble nuptial bond she was contracting with Christ. The wearing of the flammeum for the sacred virgin Bride of Christ arose from the bridal attire of the strictest pagan marriage which did not permit of divorce at the time. The flammeum was a visible reminder that divorce was not possible with Christ, their Divine Spouse. Consecrated virgins are under the direct care of the local "bishop, without belonging to a particular order, and they receive the veil as a bridal "sign of "consecration.
There has also been renewed interest in the last half century in the ancient practice of women and men dedicating themselves as "anchorites or "hermits, and there is a formal process whereby such persons can seek recognition of their vows by the local bishop; a veil for these women would be traditional.
Some "Anglican women's religious orders also wear a veil, differing according to the traditions of each order.
In "Eastern Orthodoxy and in the "Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, a veil called an "epanokamelavkion is used by both nuns and monks, in both cases covering completely the "kamilavkion, a cylindrical hat they both wear. In "Slavic practice, when the veil is worn over the hat, the entire "headdress is referred to as a "klobuk. Nuns wear an additional veil under the klobuk, called an "apostolnik, which is drawn together to cover the neck and shoulders as well as the head, leaving the face itself open.
A variety of headdresses worn by "Muslim women and girls in accordance with "hijab (the principle of dressing modestly) are sometimes referred to as veils. The principal aim of the Muslim veil is to cover the "Awrah (parts of the body that are considered private). Many of these garments cover the hair, ears and throat, but do not cover the face.
Depending on geography and culture, the veil is referenced and worn in different ways. The "khimar is a type of "headscarf. The "niqāb and "burqa are two kinds of veils that cover most of the face except for a slit or hole for the eyes. In "Algeria, a larger veil called the "haïk includes a triangular panel to cover the lower part of the face. In the Arabian Peninsula and parts of North Africa (specifically Saudi Arabia), the abaya is worn constructed like a loose robe covering everything but the face itself. In another location, such as Iran, the chador is worn as the semicircles of fabric are draped over the head like a shawl and held in place under the neck by hand. The two terms for veiling that are directly mentioned in the Quran is the jilbab and the khimar. In these references, the veiling is meant to promote modesty by covering the genitals and breasts of women.
The "Afghan burqa covers the entire body, obscuring the face completely, except for a grille or netting over the eyes to allow the wearer to see. The "boshiya is a veil that may be worn over a headscarf; it covers the entire face and is made of a sheer fabric so the wearer is able to see through it. It has been suggested that "the practice of wearing a veil – uncommon among the "Arab tribes prior to the rise of "Islam – originated in the "Byzantine Empire, and then spread.
In Central Asian sedentary Muslim areas (today Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) women wore veils which when worn the entire face was shrouded, called "Paranja or faranji. The traditional veil in Central Asia worn before modern times was the faranji but it was banned by the Soviet Communists.
The wearing of head and especially face coverings by Muslim women has raised political issues in the West; including in "Quebec, and "across Europe. Countries and territories that have banned or partially banned the veil include, among others:
Places where headscarves continue to be a contentious political issue include:
In "Indian subcontinent, from 1st century B.C. societies advocated the use of the veil for married "Hindu women which came to be known as "Ghoonghat. Buddhists attempted to counter this growing practice around 3rd century CE. Rational opposition against veiling and seclusion from spirited ladies resulted in system not becoming popular for several centuries. Under the Medieval "Islamic "Mughal Empire, various aspects of veiling and seclusion of women was adopted, such as the concept of "Purdah and "Zenana, partly as an additional protection for women. "Purdah became common in the 15th and 16th century, as both Vidyāpati and Chaitanya mention it. Sikhism was highly critical of all forms of strict veiling, Guru Amar Das condemned it and rejected seclusion and veiling of women, which saw decline of veiling among some classes during late medieval period.
The lifting of the veil was often a part of ancient wedding ritual, symbolizing the "groom taking possession of the wife, either as lover or as property, or the revelation of the bride by her parents to the groom for his approval.
In the 19th century, wedding veils came to symbolize the woman's "virginity and "modesty. The tradition of a veiled bride's face continues even today wherein, a virgin bride, especially in Christian or Jewish culture, enters the marriage ritual with a veiled face and head, and remains fully veiled, both head and face, until the ceremony concludes. After the full conclusion of the wedding ceremony, either the bride's father lifts the veil giving the bride to the groom who then kisses her, or the new groom lifts her face veil in order to kiss her, which symbolizes the groom's right to enter into conjugal relations with his bride.
In Judaism, the tradition of wearing a veil dates back to biblical times. According to the Torah in Genesis 24:65, Isaac is brought Rebekah to marry by his father Abraham's servant. It is important to note that Rebekah did not veil herself when traveling with her lady attendants and Abraham's servant and his men to meet Isaac, but she only did so when Isaac was approaching. Just before the wedding ceremony the "badeken or bedeken is held. The groom places the veil over the bride's face, and either he or the officiating Rabbi gives her a blessing. The veil stays on her face until just before the end of the wedding ceremony – when they are legally married according to Jewish law – then the groom helps lift the veil from off her face.
The most often cited interpretation for the "badeken is that, according to Genesis 29, when Jacob went to marry Rachel, his father in law Laban tricked him into marrying Leah, Rachel's older and homlier sister. Many say that the veiling ceremony takes place to make sure that the groom is marrying the right bride. Some say that as the groom places the veil over his bride, he makes an implicit promise to clothe and protect her. Finally, by covering her face, the groom recognizes that he his marrying the bride for her inner beauty; while looks will fade with time, his love will be everlasting. In some ultra-orthodox traditions the bride wears an opaque veil as she is escorted down the aisle to meet her groom. This shows her complete willingness to enter into the marriage and her absolute trust that she is marrying the right man. In Judaism, a wedding is not considered valid unless the bride willingly consents to it.
In ancient "Judaism the lifting of the veil took place just prior to the consummation of the marriage in sexual union. The uncovering or unveiling that takes place in the "wedding ceremony is a symbol of what will take place in the marriage bed. Just as the two become one through their words spoken in wedding vows, so these words are a sign of the physical oneness that they will consummate later on. The lifting of the veil is a symbol and an anticipation of this.
In Christian theology, "St. Paul's words concerning how marriage symbolizes the union of Christ and His Church may underlie part of the tradition of veiling in the marriage ceremony. In this respect, veiling may signify the waters of "baptism, with the wedding dress (& veil) being but a larger version of the "First Communion dress (& veil), which in turn is but a larger version of a baby's baptismal garment, which is the distinguishing garment of all Christians, signifying the presence of Sanctifying Grace and the Holy Spirit. At an even deeper level, the waters of baptism themselves symbolize the waters of death, which must be accepted in faith, and passed through, before truly complete joy can be experienced in "Heaven. In this respect, the religious veil is a reminder to the bride that she is dying to her previous life, and being admitted to a new kind of life, symbolic of eternal life in Heaven. For this reason, nuns are veiled—often with a black veil—with the veil not merely signifying the veil of death, but actually—in some real way—being that veil, since they will one day be buried in it. The wedding veil is also a symbol of the veil of faith in Jesus Christ, the Heavenly bridegroom, that He will one day come and redeem our mortal bodies, by the lifting of that veil, so that we shall see Him face to face in Heaven. Sacred virgins receive not the religious veil - unless they are also nuns - but a bridal veil because they are espoused to Christ in the solemn rite of Consecration of Virgins. The consecrated virgins' veil has always symbolized being a bride of Christ and the indissoluble nuptial bond the sacred virgin enjoys with Christ. Lastly, the wedding dress, either with, or even without a veil, may be a symbol of the radiance of the resurrected body in Heaven, which will not be a mortal body, but which will have been changed "in the twinkling of an eye" into something new that we cannot now even imagine.
An occasion on which a Western woman is likely to wear a veil is on her "white wedding day. "Brides once used to wear their hair flowing down their back at their wedding to symbolize their virginity. Veils covering the hair and face became a symbolic reference to the virginity of the bride thereafter. A bride may wear the face veil through the ceremony. Then either her father lifts the veil, presenting the bride to her groom, or the groom lifts the veil to symbolically consummate the marriage. Brides may make use of the veil to symbolize and emphasize their status of purity during their wedding however, and if they do, the lifting of the veil may be ceremonially recognized as the crowning event of the wedding, when the beauty of the bride is finally revealed to the groom and the guests.
In modern weddings, the ceremony of removing a face veil after the wedding to present the groom with the bride may not occur, since couples may have entered into conjugal relations prior to the wedding and it may also be considered sexist for the bride to have her face covered whether or not the veil is a sign of virginity. In Scandinavia, brides wear a veil usually under a traditional crown but do not have their face covered (instead the veil is attached to and hangs from the back).
Veils remained a part of Western mourning dress customs into the modern times. The tradition of widow's veiling has its roots in nun's attire, which symbolized modesty and chastity. The mourning veil was commonly seen as a means of shielding the mourner and hiding her grief, and, on the contrary, seen by some women as a means of publicly expressing their emotions. Mourning veils have also been sometimes perceived as expressions of elegance or even sex appeal. In a 19th-century American etiquette book one finds: "Black is becoming, and young widows, fair, plump, and smiling, with their roguish eyes sparkling under their black veils are very seducing".
One view is that as a religious item, it is intended to honor a person, object or space. The actual sociocultural, psychological, and sociosexual functions of veils have not been studied extensively but most likely include the maintenance of social distance and the communication of social status and cultural identity.
A veil also has symbolic interpretations, as something partially concealing, disguising, or obscuring.
The English word veil ultimately originates from "Latin vēlum, which also means ""sail," from "Proto-Indo-European *wegʰslom, from the verbal root *wegʰ- "to drive, to move or ride in a vehicle" (compare way and wain) and the tool/instrument suffix *-slo-, because the sail makes the ship move. Compare the "diminutive form vexillum, and the Slavic cognate veslo "oar, paddle", attested in Czech and Serbo-Croatian.
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