Auction 86 - Part I - Rare & Important Items

"Duka" – Gold-Embroidered Women's Head Covering – Tunisia, Late 19th or Early 20th Century

Opening: $600
Estimate: $1,000 - $2,000
Sold for: $750
Including buyer's premium
Conical, pointed, gold-embroidered women's head covering ("duka"). Tunisia, [late 19th or early 20th century].
Silk and silk velvet, couched metal-cord embroidery (gold and silver), sequins.
A conical, pointed head covering made of black velvet over a card base, densely embroidered with gilt metal cord in symmetrical vegetal patterns. Sewn onto the head covering is an embroidered yellow silk scarf that hangs down over the back of the neck and back.
Paintings and photographs from the 19th and early 20th centuries – many of them appearing on postcards distributed throughout the Jewish world – show Tunisian Jewish women in various forms of dress. These pictures indicate that this particular head covering was an element of ceremonial costume, to be worn during Sabbatical holidays, Sabbaths, wedding celebrations, and other festive occasions, namely at times when women were expected to wear their best jewelry and most elegant clothing, the latter lavishly gold embroidered. The renowned French author Guy de Maupassant recalls having encountered Tunisian Jewish women during his visit to the region, roughly in 1890, and mentions their spectacular finery: "Their heads are topped by pointed headdresses that are often silver or golden […] with a scarf cascading down the back […] in their finest garments, something resembling nightgowns made of gold or silver weave […] On the Sabbath […] they receive their friends […] seated one beside the other […] covered in silks and shining fabrics…" (cited by Hagar Salamon and Esther Juhasz, "'Goddesses of Flesh and Metal': Gazes on the Tradition of Fattening Jewish Brides in Tunisia, " "Journal of Middle East Women's Studies, " Vol. 7, No. 1 [Winter 2011], pp. 1-38).
Height: 20 cm. Length of scarf: approx. 60 cm. Good-fair condition. Blemishes to embroidery, unraveled sections and tears.
For a similar head covering, see The Israel Museum Collection, Item No. B79.1012.
Enclosed: Four postcards with photographs of Tunisian Jewish women wearing the "duka" head covering. 9X14 cm. Good condition. Minor stains and blemishes.
Jewish Ceremonial Art, Carpets
Jewish Ceremonial Art, Carpets