Keffiyeh. A Symbol of Fashion, Unity and Resistance

May 11th is World Keffiyeh Day: Learn more about the history of Keffiyeh...

  • Publish date: Thursday، 28 December 2023 Last update: Saturday، 11 May 2024
Keffiyeh. A Symbol of Fashion, Unity and Resistance

What is Keffiyeh

A keffiyeh, also spelled kufiya, (الكوفية) is a traditional Middle Eastern headdress (scarf) that is typically worn by men and recently by women. It is a square-shaped piece of cloth, usually made of cotton, and is often woven in a distinctive checkered pattern, typically black and white or red and white. The keffiyeh is commonly associated with Arab culture (Muslims and Christians) and is worn in various countries throughout the Middle East.

The keffiyeh has practical uses, such as protecting from the sun, dust, and sand in arid environments. It can also be worn in different styles, with variations in the way it is folded and draped over the head. In addition to its functional purposes, the keffiyeh has become a symbol of Palestinian identity and solidarity. It gained international attention during the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where it became a symbol of resistance.

The keffiyeh has transcended its original cultural and political context and is sometimes worn as a fashion accessory in various parts of the world.

Celebrities who wore Keffiyeh

Over the years, several celebrities have been photographed wearing keffiyehs. It's important to note that the use of the keffiyeh by celebrities has sometimes sparked discussions about cultural appropriation and sensitivity, as the garment carries political and cultural significance in the Middle East. Here are a few examples of celebrities who have been seen wearing keffiyehs:

Yasser Arafat: The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was often seen wearing a distinctive black and white keffiyeh, becoming one of the most iconic figures associated with the garment.

Alicia Keys: The American singer-songwriter has been photographed wearing a keffiyeh in various instances.

Coldplay: The British rock band Coldplay faced criticism for using imagery associated with the Arab world, including the keffiyeh, in their music videos and performances.

Bono: The lead singer of U2, Bono, has been seen wearing a keffiyeh on multiple occasions.

Madonna: The pop icon Madonna has been photographed wearing a keffiyeh in the past.

Wearing kufiya has a cultural significance with sensitivity and awareness of its cultural and political context. Some instances of celebrities wearing keffiyehs have been criticized for perceived cultural appropriation, while others have been seen as expressions of solidarity or fashion choices.

What are the common colors of Keffiyeh?

Traditionally, keffiyehs come in various colors, but the most common and well-known combinations are black and white or red and white. The distinctive checkered pattern is created by weaving contrasting-colored threads. The choice of colors can sometimes have cultural or regional significance, and variations in the patterns and colors may exist.

Keffiyeh in 2 colors

The black and white keffiyeh, in particular, became widely associated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who wore it as part of his iconic look. The red and white pattern is also common and may be associated with different regions or variations in style.

In addition to the traditional colors, keffiyehs are now produced in a range of colors and patterns to suit various tastes and fashion preferences. Modern versions can feature combinations such as blue and white, green and white, or even multi-colored designs. These variations are often used for fashion purposes rather than having specific cultural or political associations.

Keffiyeh. A Symbol of Fashion, Unity and Resistance

How do you wear Keffiyeh?

The way a keffiyeh is worn can vary based on personal preference, cultural norms, and regional styles. Here is a basic guide on how to wear a keffiyeh, particularly in the traditional Middle Eastern style:


  • Select the Keffiyeh:

Choose a square-shaped keffiyeh. Traditional colors include black and white or red and white, but modern versions come in various colors and patterns.

  • Fold the Keffiyeh:

Fold the keffiyeh into a triangle. Hold two opposite corners and bring them together, forming a triangle with the hypotenuse being the folded edge.

  • Place on the Head:

Position the folded keffiyeh over your head, with the folded edge along your forehead. The point of the triangle should be at the back of your head.

  • Secure the Ends:

Take the two loose ends of the triangle, one in each hand, and bring them around to the front, crossing them over each other.

  • Adjust Tension:

Adjust the tension and tightness according to your comfort. The keffiyeh can be worn loosely or tightly, depending on personal preference and environmental conditions.

  • Secure the Ends Behind:

Once you've wrapped the ends around your head and crossed them in front, bring them to the back of your head.

  • Tie the Ends:

Tie the ends in a knot at the back of your head. This knot helps to secure the keffiyeh in place.

  • Adjustment:

Adjust the folds and positioning of the keffiyeh to achieve the desired look and comfort.

Keffiyeh. A Symbol of Fashion, Unity and Resistance

The way a keffiyeh is worn can vary among individuals, and there are different regional styles. Additionally, some people may choose to wear the keffiyeh in a more casual and loose style, without securing it tightly around the head. Ultimately, the way you wear a keffiyeh can be a personal choice, and you can experiment with different styles to find what suits you best.


Who invented Keffiyeh?

The keffiyeh has a long history, and its exact origins are challenging to trace. It has been worn in the Middle East for centuries, and its use predates contemporary borders and nations. The keffiyeh is believed to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula and has been a part of the traditional clothing worn by people in the region for practical and cultural reasons.

The checkered pattern that is commonly associated with the keffiyeh has ancient roots and was historically used as a practical design to help protect against the sun, wind, and dust in arid environments. The keffiyeh has evolved, adapting to different cultural and regional styles.

While it's challenging to attribute the invention of the keffiyeh to a specific individual, it has become deeply intertwined with the cultural identity of various Middle Eastern communities. The garment gained international attention, especially during the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where it became a symbol of resistance and solidarity. The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in particular, became widely associated with the keffiyeh, contributing to its recognition on the global stage.

Keffiyeh. A Symbol of Fashion, Unity and Resistance

What does Keffiyeh resemble?

The keffiyeh, with its distinctive checkered pattern, has been said to resemble various things, and interpretations may vary. Here are a few common comparisons:

Checkered Pattern:

The most obvious resemblance is to a checkered or grid pattern. The traditional black and white or red and white colors, combined with the square shape of the cloth, create a checkered effect.

Symbol of Resistance:

In the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the keffiyeh has been seen as a symbol of resistance. The checkered pattern, in this case, has been likened to a symbol of steadfastness and resilience.

Cultural Identity:

The keffiyeh is deeply embedded in the cultural identity of various Middle Eastern communities. It represents a connection to tradition, heritage, and a sense of belonging.

Nomadic Lifestyle:

Some have suggested that the keffiyeh's design reflects the nomadic lifestyle of the people in the Middle East. The pattern could symbolize the harsh environment of the desert and the need for protection against sun, wind, and sand.

Solidarity and Unity:

The keffiyeh is often worn as a symbol of solidarity, and its pattern could be interpreted as a representation of unity and interconnectedness.

The perception of what the keffiyeh resembles may vary based on individual perspectives and cultural contexts. It's important to recognize that the keffiyeh holds different meanings for different people, and its significance goes beyond its visual appearance.

What is Keffiyeh made of?

Traditional keffiyehs are typically made of cotton. The cotton fabric provides comfort and breathability, making it suitable for wearing in the often warm and arid climates of the Middle East. The cotton fibers are woven to create the distinctive checkered pattern that is characteristic of the keffiyeh.

The weaving technique contributes to the durability of the fabric, allowing it to withstand the harsh environmental conditions it was historically designed to protect against, such as sun, wind, and sand. The most common colors for traditional keffiyehs are black and white or red and white, and the checkered pattern is created by the contrasting colors in the weave.

It's worth noting that contemporary variations of the keffiyeh may use different materials, and you can find keffiyehs made from a blend of cotton and other fabrics. Additionally, modern interpretations may come in a wide range of colors and patterns, expanding beyond the traditional black-and-white or red-and-white designs.

Follow us on our Whatsapp channel for latest news