A woman wearing the Battoulah

Battoulah (Arabic: البطولة, romanizedal-baṭṭūlah), also called Gulf Burqa (Arabic: البرقع الخليجي),[1][note 1] is a metallic-looking fashion mask traditionally worn by Muslim[5][6] Arab women. The mask is mainly worn in the Persian Gulf region, including Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iraq and Qatar, as well as in southern Iran.[7] The mask usually indicates that the wearer is married.[1] Historically, it was also used to fool enemies into thinking that the women they spied from a distance were actually men.[8]


The origin of the battoulah is unknown.[7] Multiple theories exist on where it may have originated. It is thought to have entered the Eastern Arabian Peninsula from Gujarat in late 18th century.[9]


Multiple variants of the battoulah exist, and some are specific to cities and regions. The "Zabeel cut" design has a narrow top and a broad, curved bottom, and is worn in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The variant worn in Sharjah resembles the Zabeel cut, but is shaped so the top of the mask is inclined forwards. The Al Ain design features both a narrow top and bottom. The Bahraini and Qatari burqa is square. In Oman and Fujairah it is very large and broader at the top with a tip that goes beyond the forehead. In neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the niqab is worn instead.[1] In southern provinces of Iran, Shia women wear red rectangular masks, while those of Sunni women are black or indigo with gold, similar to the mask worn in the Arabian peninsula.[8] In Qeshm, the masks were designed to fool invaders, so they would mistake women for male soldiers.[4]


See also


  1. ^ Other names include al-burghu,[2] burqué,[3] boregheh[4]


  1. ^ a b c "History Project: The burqa". The National. 1 December 2014.
  2. ^ "The story behind the mask". thezay.org. August 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  3. ^ "In pictures: Iran and the masks of the Minab market". The Middle East Eye. 7 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b "The beautiful Iranian women captured in their boregheh masks". News Nation TV. 11 February 2019.
  5. ^ Brydon, Lynne; Chant, Sylvia H. (11 August 1989). Women in the Third World: Gender Issues in Rural and Urban Areas. Rutgers University Press. p. 29 – via Internet Archive. batula islamic.
  6. ^ Qazi, Moin (11 August 2018). Women In Islam- Exploring New Paradigms. Notion Press. ISBN 9789384878030 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b electricpulp.com. "CLOTHING xxiii. Clothing of the Persian Gulf – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org.
  8. ^ a b "The masked women of southern Iran". Qanatara.de. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  9. ^ Rajab, Jehan S. (1997). Silver Jewellery of Oman. Kuwait: Tareq Rajab Museum; Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 48. & 52., ISBN 9781860643101