The loose, unencumbered dress of the Bedouin woman is well suited to her nomadic life for it requires little maintenance. Although black is the dominating Bedouin color, women of some of the tribes dress in blue. The garment is long and ample. The armholes are deep to permit a wide sleeve. The dress opens to the waist and is usually unbelted. When a belt is worn it is tied around the hips and serves to support the figure as well as to adjust the length of the garment.
Old Bedouin costumes were richly embellished with fine hand embroidery worked in cross stitch. The design was embroidered across the front and back of the bodice, down the sleeves and along the main seams. Machine stitched embroidery now takes the place of hand work generally. The embroidery is of a contrasting color, usually red or yellow. Blue dresses are embroidered in black or red.
The Bedouin headdress combines a rectangular scarf of black silk georgette with a diagonally folded band. The thin scarf is draped around the head and under the chin so that the throat is covered. The folded band is tied squarely on the head so that it covers most of the forehead.The Bedouin woman pulls her hair out from under the veil to frame her face. Often the hair has been hennaed. She sews her gold and silver dowry coins on her headdress and likes gold or silver anklets and bracelets.
The sling arrangement by which a Bedouin woman carries her baby on her back also becomes part of the headdress, for the sling is sup ported across the forehead. It is called the shakaban.
A loose jacket of heavy dark wool serves as an overcoat for the Bedouin woman. The same jacket, called the jubbe, is also worn by men. Occasionally the jacket is bright blue. It is always ornamented with braid and it is hip length.
Bedouin wedding dresses are as gay as their everyday dresses may be somber. The bride buys the most luxurious material she can afford and if she has a choice she will pick a shiny, highly ornamental fabric such as brocade, cut velvet, or printed silk. The style of the dress is very simple and it has long sleeves. It may be caught in at the waist with a silver, gold, leather or folded fabric belt.
The bride in the photograph is one of four married at a jointceremony attended by a thousand guests in the B'kaa Valley. She wears the typical Bedouin headdress and a jubbe over her wedding dress. Her face is tattooed in the style admired by her people and her hennaed hair glistens with olive oil.