Monday, December 15, 2008

Moussor is not Hijab

I went back home for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends. While I was there, I enjoyed observing the fashion trends of the Senegalese Women. I was happy to see that more women were wearing the Hijab than back in the days when I was a teenager. However, their wearing of the Hijab was very interesting and unique to the Senegalese woman.

First, let me explain that the typical Senegalese woman is fond of fashion and dressing up. She does everything to get trendy clothes and accessories, going so far as to pay it in layaways. That is why, even though we are talking about recession and economic crisis, every woman is well dressed.

Second, Senegalese women enjoy wearing traditional clothes. We have a set of traditional clothes that we put on to go to work, or during special occasions such as weddings. The Boubou is a large piece of clothes worn over the body with a wrap around skirt underneath. The "Taille basse" is a two piece top and skirt generally made with wax cloth. The Nodcket is an empire waiste dress with oversized sleeves. And finally we have Kaftan or Jellabah designed clothes imported from Arab countries. All these types of traditional clothes are very colorful and made with very expensive cloths such as Thioub Ganila (dyied cloths) of imported silk.



My Christian cousins and I during Eid

With the dress of those traditional clothes come what we like to call the "Moussor". Moussor is a piece of clothes that we wrap around the head. It has nothing to do with the Hijab because it does not usually cover the whole head and neck. It can be worn very simply or elaborately depending on the occasion. Nowadays, the Moussor is such a craze that some hair salons specialised in it. A lady, dubbed the Queen of Moussor even makes some very artful Moussor like hats and sells it.




Senegalese Moussor from simple to elaborate (from orange.sn)

Although I do not know how to make a Moussor, I enjoy wearing it. There was a time when I hated it because I did not want to fuss. But now that I am of a certain age, I think it is very appropriate and elegant to wear it. The Moussor has become so popular that you can see it on young girls head even if they are not wearing traditional clothes. I noticed this trend while shopping around town. The sellers of the Sandaga Market (local market) were offering Pashmina style scarf for a very affordable price. Of course they are not real Pashmina but they are close to the real deal. Many women enjoy wearing those scarves around their head. My cousin would wear it everyday and match the color with her outfit.



Head Wrap with the Senegalese Hip Hop group Farafina

I started to imitate her because I was tired of having the same style of covering my head. I went to Sandaga and bought myself 5 colorful Pashmina scarves that I immediatly started to use. I found this way very interesting because I was in the process of wearing the Hijab. By using these scarves, I could still cover my hair and head without being too blunt about my wearing a hijab. People did not even notice that I started covering myself. It was so natural. Of course, there will be a time, when I will completely cover myself, and I would have to ditch this Moussor style. But for now, it suits me well and I am very happy with it.

At the beginning of this article I said that more and more women were wearing the Hijab. You could see them on the streets.More than ever, you can find shops for Hijab wearing women, hair salons, and even gyms. I even found an article about a Senegalese woman who was designing Hijab friendly clothes.
(read the article in French at http://www.carapid.com/details.php?ref=2376&categorie=Mode&theme=CC33CC)

However, the particularity with the Senegalese style of wearing the Hijab is that it is not subtle. Many Hijab wearing women would wear shiny and sparkly Hijab that would draw attention to them. It may be pretty but is it not the purpose of the Hijab to be discreet? I do not want to judge because compare to others, at least they are covering themselves. Nevertheless, I know some people who may not agree with their styles.

It was good going back. I enjoy the fact that even though fashion is still crazy at home (some women do wear outrageous things sometimes), more and more women are thinking about covering up. And they are sticking to in spite of all the temptations. For that only I am glad.

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