Silk bukhnaq, or head covering, worn by young girls
20th century
Object Name: Head cover, bukhnaq
Period: 20th century
Date: 1900-1999
Provenance: Qatar
Dimensions: 135cm x 65cm, weight: 260g
Medium: textile,cotton,metal thread
Registration Number: QNM.2015.12
The bukhnaq is a light translucent head cover that was worn by girls until puberty. After which they would wear different kinds of head and face coverings, depending on the traditions of their community. The bukhnaq covers the head and shoulders and surrounds the face to the underside of the chin, extending at the front down to the waist. The back is long and extends to the ankles.

This example is made of silk chiffon and is embroidered by machine with synthetic gold and silver threads in traditional motifs. The bukhnaq has different local names depending on the type of embroidery used; heavily embroidered ones were used for special occasions. These days it is only worn by young girls during Garangao, a traditional celebration that marks the middle of Ramadan.
The Qatar Peninsula is surrounded by sea except in the south where it connects with its neighbours from the Arabian Peninsula. For hundreds of years people have shared the land, resources and knowledge inherited from their environment. With no fixed lifestyle in terms of time and place, people moved easily and freely between land and sea for trade, livestock, pearl diving, fishing, and hunting at various times throughout the year. This symbiotic relationship between the people and their environment was represented in the unity of their societies, including the exchange of knowledge, stories and the trading of available goods.

A distinctive characteristic of life on the Qatar Peninsula has long been the close association between the coast and the desert – al barr. Some desert tribes spent several months of the year in coastal cities, setting up semi-permanent residences to participate in pearl diving or fishing. Similarly, coastal residents occasionally moved to al barr during the winter to graze their livestock. This exchange of natural resources and the influence of different environments has contributed to the creation of a unique community.
The presence of British, French and Dutch trading companies in the Gulf from the early 1600s brought uncertainty to the region, with unstable alliances and intense competition over trade routes. As trade flourished, however, the strength of the Arab tribes increased. Many Arab tribes moved from the interior of the Arabian Peninsula to Qatar, and by the 18th and 19th centuries, most of the major towns of the Gulf were founded. Several towns flourished on the Qatari coast, including Huwailah, Khor Hassan, Fuwairat, Ruwaida, Freiha, Al Bidda and Doha. The most notable was Al Zubara which became a hub for the Gulf pearl trade.
ISMAEL, N., 2003, Qatari Costume, [Unpublished report, National Museum of Qatar, Qatar Museums]