A brief history of the headscarf

Throughout history, the headscarf sat atop the heads of culture defining women — and men — from monarchs to the daring flappers of the 1920s. Ranging from patterned prints to luxe fabrics to simple sheaths, the fashion item is wrapped in centuries of interpretation.

The headscarf was born out of necessity, with wearers across Mesopotamian societies using linens to safeguard their heads from the rain and sun, as well as aid in sanitation.

Head coverings were first written into law around 13th Century BC, in an ancient Assyrian text that mandated that women, daughters and widows cover their heads as a sign of piety.

Headscarves were forbidden to women of the lower classes and prostitutes. The consequences of wearing the scarf illegally were public humiliation or arrest.

The headscarf was popularized in the religions that emerged from the region, with early Christians and Jews covering their hair with veils according to their sacred texts.

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