The kufiya as a symbol of resistance

The kufiya as a symbol of resistance


The Palestinian kufiya (keffiyeh or hatta in Arabic) is a scarf with a cultural meaning rooted in the struggle and resistance of the Palestinian people, which in the last 100 years has become a political and cultural tool.

International solidarity
The Palestinian kufiya has been and continues to be a symbol of resistance and solidarity with the Palestinian people's struggle for liberation and justice. From its use during the Great Palestinian Revolution in the 1930s to its presence in current demonstrations in Palestine and around the world, the kufiya has been a key element in affirming Palestinian identity and denouncing the Israeli occupation. .


Furthermore, the use of the kufiya as a symbol of resistance has transcended Palestinian borders, becoming a global symbol of the fight against oppression and injustice.

Its use dates back centuries, although its exact origins are uncertain. Some maintain that Sumerian priests used it as a symbol of honor and social rank in ancient Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago.

Other sources suggest that the name Kufiya comes from an Iraqi city called Kufa, and that during a 7th century battle between Arabs and Persians in that city, the Arabs secured their turbans with cords of camel hair to identify themselves in the midst of the fighting. . After the victory, the Arabs continued to use the turban in this way.
The traditional Palestinian kufiya is made of white cotton with black pattern embroidery. There are also variations in the color palette and patterns.
The truth is that over time, its use spread throughout the Middle East and each region developed its own version of the fabric design. Traditionally, it can be recognized in red or black, with the red version being very popular in Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf countries. In Jordan and Syria, the garment is known as shemagh, while in the Gulf countries it is known as ghutra.

In Palestine, before 1930, the kufiya was worn mainly by peasants and Bedouins as protection against the sun and sandstorms, while in the cities other types of accessories were used such as the tarbush (a type of round, flattened hat with a tassel on top that was popularized by the Ottoman Empire). ​​After the British occupation in 1930, the use of the kufiya spread to the entire population, acquiring a whole new political dimension.

During the Great Palestinian Revolution of 1936, those who first rebelled against the British Mandate were the peasants. The kufiya served to hide their faces and avoid arrest, but it also gave them away when they entered cities. The arrests and the ban on the use of the kufiya by the British authorities motivated the high command of the Palestinian Revolution to order the use of the kufiya to all men both in the cities and in the fields so that the rebels could camouflage themselves. . In this way the kufiya became popular and became a symbol of resistance and national identity.

The kufiya became a kind of uniform against the Israeli occupation. A symbol of resistance and unity in the fight for liberation.

When the Nakba, with the creation of Israel in 1948, meant the ethnic cleansing and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands and homes, the kufiya also represented an object of national and cultural identity to cling to.