A veil is an article of clothing, worn almost exclusively by women, that is intended to cover some part of the head or face.
One view is that as a religious item, it is intended to show honor to an 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. In Islamic society, various forms of the veil have been adopted from the Arab culture in which Islam arose.
The first recorded instance of veiling for women is recorded in an Assyrian legal text from the 13th century BCE, which restricted its use to noble women and forbade prostitutes and common women from adopting it. The Mycenaean Greek term a-pu-ko-wo-ko meaning "craftsman of horse veil" written in Linear B syllabic script is also attested since ca. 1300 BC. Ancient Greek texts have also spoken of veiling and seclusion of women being practiced among the Persian elite. Statues from Persepolis depict women both veiled and unveiled, and it seems to be regarded as an attribute of prostitution under their belief.
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.
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.
For centuries, 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.
Veils with religious significance
In Judaism, Christianity and Islam the concept of covering the head is or was associated with propriety. All traditional depictions of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, show her veiled. Veiling was a common practice with church-going women until the 1960s, and a number of very traditional churches retain the custom. The wearing of various forms of the Muslim veil has provoked controversy in the West.
Although religion stands as a commonly held reason for choosing to veil, it has also reflects on political regimes and person conviction, allowing it to serve as a medium through which personal character can be revealed.
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