In the past, Turkish Muslim ladies often covered their faces with an almost sheer veil called “yashmak”. Although, such an accessory is today considered a symbol of gender oppression by many. But Turkish women wore this niqab-style item daily. While this tradition is practically gone in Turkey by now, married women in Turkmenistan still use a yashmak these days. What’s your opinion on obligatory face veils for ladies?
A “yashmak” (also spelled “yashmac” or “yasmak”, from the Turkish word “yaşmak” which literally means “veil”) is a type of face veil originating from the Ottoman Empire. It was a Muslim state, so ladies often were to cover in the public their heads and faces with various accessories – veils, niqabs, hijabs, burqas, etc.
Some head coverings were dark and not transparent at all, others were almost sheer. And a yashmak is one of the latter.
Old photo of Turkish people. The woman on the right wears a classic yashmak
A yashmak is not just an ordinary veil, it consists of 2 separate pieces – a face veil and a head veil. One covers the lower part of the face up to the eyes and another one covers the forehead and the top of the head (usually, there is some kind of headdress underneath the yashmak, a skull-cap, for example). Both veils are made from very thin and fine white muslin fabric. As it’s a cotton cloth, ladies were somewhat more comfortable breezing in it but, of course, in such a hot climate, it must’ve been a challenge. On the other hand, their skin remained white and soft, well-protected from the sun.
Sometimes, Turkish women added another accessory to a yashmak – an item called “peçe”. It was a rectangle of woven black horsehair that was attached to the head at the temples and covered the face.
There was also another design of a yashmak – this veil had slits for the eyes and was worn so that it covered the face and was tied at the nape with strings.
Today, Turkish ladies don’t use a yashmak, at least it’s very rare. But Turkmen married women still wear this accessory. It’s considered appropriate to wear a yashmak in the presence of the husband’s elderly male relatives.
Old photo of Turkish people. Again, the woman on the right has a yashmak on her head