HvWO 078

Antique Omani Shabka Headdress made of goat-skin straps and silver appliqués

Shabka Made from woven leather straps and silver appliqués

Common Omani Shabka ladies headdress. Made from woven goat leather straps and silver appliqués (najm). Worn by Bedouin women. Each cap is individually made for an by that person alone. The bottom part includes a row of silver cylinders on the sides, and hanging down fringes of plaited and rolled up leather. The shabka is worn on special occasions by the Bedouin women of central and northern Oman (e.g. Bidiyah and areas in the Wahiba Sands) The hair underneath the shabka would be plaited and knotted into a bunch at the nape of the neck and wrapped in a fine-meshed black cloth. When worn, the shabka itself was also covered by a fine-mesh see-through black head-shawl. It was sometimes combined with a similarly constructed leather collar (see next item)

According to Oman Adorned (Ref 1) The forehead piece, the alaka, was attached to the front of the head-dress - with shy or reserved women, this was the only part of the shabka which was readily visible when worn; but younger and less shy women usually contrived to arrange their head-shawl in such a way as to show off as much of their head-dress as possible...This fine head-dress was worn only for special festivals, such as weddings, Eid celebrations, public circumcision ceremonies and on other occasions when a number of households met to mark some happy event (sharh).


Antique Omani silver headdress


Arab names: Shabka / Shabkah

Period: 1850-1950

Origin:  Northern and central Oman (Bedouin)

The Shabka head dress is only worn by Bedouin women

  1. Oman Adorned by Pauline Shelton  Robert Richmond Miranda Morris / Apex London 1997 p 158-161
  2. Craft heritage of Oman Neil Richardson & Maria Dorr Part two p 353 item 031
  3. Catalog of the Oman exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam 2009 page 133
  4. Disappearing treasures of Oman 1998 by Avelyn Foster p 68 fig 61
  5. Silver jewellery of Oman by Jehan S Rajab 1997 p67
  6. Traditional silver jewelry and handicrafts from Oman by Jean Greffioz p 16-17
  7. Ethnic Jewellery from Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands 2002 Amsterdam Pepin Press p65
  8. British Museum on-line collection number 2010.6003.1
  9. Islamic art in Oman page 345
  10. Traditional silver jewelry and handicrafts from Oman by Jean Greffioz 2009 (privately published) page 17 fig 2.1 has photo with a similar item.