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Qarqush, who does really know about it? How many publications did write about
it? It’s clear that it’s been neglected even though it’s an essential tradition for many
Yemenis..
By Afrah Nasser

Qarqush is a cultural traditional aspect by infants and brides. It’s a long time when other women sell them. In addition,
of Yemen that little has been said about. traditional costume for many Yemeni Qarqush could be bought in local markets
It’s untold story of how Yemeni families children and brides. It’s a colorful piece in villages and is given as gifts between
used it as a sign of their sense of care and made of fabric or wool, along with glittery, women to newly mothers. Though,
fondness to their infants. In addition, it’s an colorful and golden strings. Infants wear it nowadays it is hard to find it in the regular
indication of Yemenis’ sense of art. in their heads once they are born till they markets. If found now, it definitely would
Simply, Yemen is a rich country, with reach certain age. It aims to protect the child have been transformed into a modern one
diverse traditional heritage and one of its once he is born from feeling cold or from that has lost the old traditional look.
traditions is Qarqush that has an importance evil approaches. Essentially, Qarqush is no longer worn in
among its people. Normally, it’s hand made by mothers Yemen today but it could be found in several
Qarqush or other women. Mothers usually buy villages and rarely in wedding parties for
Qarqush is an old traditional hat worn them during their Qat chewing sessions women. In actual fact, this hat has been

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Many Yemenis associate their childhood
with their Qarqushes, since it’s rare
to find today. Nowadays, brides put it
gracefully with pride, assuring their
affiliation with traditions.

Imam Yahya Muhammad strengthened


his control over northern Yemen creating
the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen.
During all these years, Yemen, especially
the northern part, is believed to have
inherited a great amount of traditional flavor
from the Ottomans.
Types of Qarqush
Usually, there are two main different types
of Qarqush. One is for boys and the other
is for girls. Fascinatingly, boys’ type has
a more sparkling look than the girls’ type.
Hence, anyone could easily differentiate
between young infants whether they are
boys or girls.
Some types of infants’ Qarqush have black
beans inside them as a tool of protection
from envy. Occasionally, Quranic verses or
divine words are written on Qarqushes. It
has been believed that same would protect
the infants from devil and envy.
Additionally, there is one type for brides.
It’s an important type that has gold or silver
accessories that’s intended as a symbol
of adornment. Today, girls have brought
Qarqush into a modern world where they
mixed tradition with modernity. That’s
to mean, they put modern jewelry in the
very important for most of Yemeni parents, then until the 19th century, the Ottomans traditional Qarqush. Brides can chose
making sure that their children wear it. retained control only of isolated coastal to wear Qarqush or not in their wedding
Its Origin areas, while the highlands generally were parties. However, it’s been part of many
It is hard to trace back to its original ruled by the Zaidi Imams. girls’ wedding and parties’ costumes,
source; when exactly it was initiated and Yemen got very much tainted with a embellished with gold jewelry. Till today,
who exactly wore it first. Some historians number of cultural and traditional aspects some girls wear this type.
believe it originated from the Ottomans by the Ottomans. Ottoman suzerainty was Qarqush’s traditional impact
era. In 1516, the Mamluks of Egypt reestablished in northern Yemen in the late It’s been always a very common tradition
occupied Yemen; but in the following 19th century but its control was largely in most of Yemeni villages. However,
year, the Mamluk governor surrendered confined to cities, and the Zaidi Imam’s rule it’s becoming rare to find, nowadays, in
to the Ottomans, and Turkish armies over Upper Yemen was formally recognized. Yemen’s big cities.
consequently overran the country. From Turkish forces withdrew in 1918, and Traditionally, boys and girls wear it until

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they are one year old, but in a number of Nevertheless, newly born girls might wear it’s a way to assure tradition and exclusive
villages girls wear it until they get married. it temporarily until they are one year old Yemeni cultural feature.
It’s greatly believed that it’s shameful that and then take it off. Later on, they might Whether infants or brides wear it, Qarqush
a girl shows her hair before she is married. wear it again when they are 10 as they are forms a significant cultural face of Yemen.
Hence, she must not show her hair to her approaching marriage age to make it a sign Many Yemenis associate their childhood
father, brothers, male members of her family of being single. with their Qarqushes, since it’s rare to find
and, interestingly, women. The reason for On the other hand, for infants, it could be an today. Nowadays, brides put it gracefully
not showing it to women is not because indicator of how much caring they family with pride, assuring their affiliation with
it’s shameful, but because the girl wants to is. The more distinguished the Qarqush traditions. It’s agreed among Yemenis how
surprise all the women with her hair in her is, the more caring the family is towards important it is, making it one of the main old
wedding party when she gets married. their infants. Moreover, for many families, cultural traditions.

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