Mato & Hash Blog
The Shemagh Scarf - World's Most Versatile Head Covering
AKA: DASTMAL YAZDI, GHUTRA, KEFFIYEH, REZZA, THE ULTIMATE PIECE OF DESERT TACTICAL APPAREL
READ TIME: 2 MINUTES 45 SECONDS
Say it with confidence - shuh-maag. This multi-functional head covering, commonly referred to as an Arabic head scarf, originated in the deserts of the Middle East as a way for rural people to keep the elements out: sun, wind, rain, dust, sandstorms and anything else that may pop up. From Tokyo to Amman to Los Angeles and everywhere in-between, shemaghs have entered the mainstream in recent decades.
Over the years, some styles have come to represent political ideas and the shemagh has even been pushed by high-end fashion companies. In the end, it is simply an extremely useful garment for any camper, traveler, soldier or explorer.
Our 100% authentic shemaghs are made from the highest quality fabric and measure 42-inches square. Manufactured in Pakistan, you have your choice of five different styles with tons of color options. You also have your choice between a regular or jumbo-sized (75" x 38") shemagh.
Tactical Camo Keffiyeh Scarves 6.99 (Regular)
Jumbo Arabic Head Scarf - 12.99 (Jumbo)
There is little consensus on exactly where the shemagh originated, but most agree it was somewhere in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) thousands of years ago. Different names are applied depending on which part of the world you are in: keffiyeh in Syria and the Levant, dastmal yazdi in Iran, ghutra in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, rezza in North Africa, and shemagh in Jordan, Israel, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and most other areas.
Some have made the shemagh political - for instance, the soldiers of Hamas typically wear a red and white pattern. Palestinian Yasser Arafat, former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), famously wore a white and black pattern. This goes back further to when Palestinians would wear it as a symbol of rebellion against the British Occupation.
Other colors are simply popular by region: Jordan likes red and white, Israel likes blue and white, the Saudis go plain white or red and white checkers, Iraq's favorite is white and black. In America, the most popular is desert camouflage.The shemagh gained notoriety in the West after T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, assisted in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire in the early 1900's. The subsequent movie chronicling that saga opened the eyes of the British, Americans, Europeans, Asians and the rest of the world to the shemagh, previously only well-known in the Middle East and North Africa.
Military all over the world are issued a shemagh nowadays. From the US to New Zealand, armed forces nearly worldwide use one, especially if they will be operating in a desert or other challenging climate. The multitude of tactical uses paired with protection from the elements make the shemagh an attractive piece of gear to soldiers.
The biggest appeal of the shemagh is the fact it has so many uses. Tons of these are documented across the internet, but use your imagination and ingenuity and you can adapt the shemagh to be useful in nearly any situation you are in.You can use a shemagh for a face covering, a head covering, a face and head covering, a scarf, to bandage a wound, to make a bag, to sit on, as a towel and on and on. Here are some more uses, however there are countless others:
Washcloth, rope, slingshot, water filter, belt, sling, ankle wrap, pillow, blanket, hand warmer, sweat rag, oven mitt or pot holder, flag.For instructions on how to tie and wear a shemagh, we've made this short video. It's very simple although it may seem intimidating at first: Fold into a triangle, drape over head with triangular side at your back, adjust sides so left side is armpit height and then pull under chin, pull right side across face and behind neck, meet left side with right side, tie.
A happy customer reviews our shemagh on his prepper/survival website in this video.
If you are heading on a camping trip or other type of excursion this summer or fall, a shemagh is an invaluable accessory to have with you. Make sure you get one for the whole crew here. Winter in general is another outstanding use for the garment.
There are a lot of different terms out there for shemagh. Like mentioned above, you may hear keffiyeh, ghutrah, rezza, dastmal yazdi - they all represent the same thing.
What a shemagh is not is a turban or hijab. The turban is a piece of headwear worn extensively throughout the Middle Eastern and Asian world, frequently associated by many with religious figures. Likewise, the hijab is a covering Muslim women wear for modesty.
No matter which colors you are going to rock or what size you pick, we have a wide selection of shemaghs in different styles and patterns. Check out what we offer and check out with your favorites today.Check the Mato & Hash Blog often for new posts with apparel information, design tips, trends and more. If you have an idea you'd like to see us explore - let us know - we may consider writing about it.
About the Authors
Jon is the E-Commerce Product Specialist and has been with Mato & Hash since the beginning of 2021. He grew up about 20 minutes east of the office, holds a degree in journalism and enjoys watching and playing sports, reading, video games, cooking and spending time with his friends and family.
Leona has been the Resident Photographer/Content Creator at Mato & Hash since the start of 2020, capturing flawless product images and actualizing breathtaking photoshoots. She loves her fur babies, hiking and anything creative. She graduated with a BFA in photography from College for Creative Studies in Detroit.