I n a contemporary global world, this head covering of a married woman holds significance that reaches far beyond a simple marriage ritual. Is it a reinstatement of social distance maintained by the bride once she is married? Or is it a space for privacy for the young bride? Some say it symbolises cultural identity that gives others indicators about how to communicate with the bride.
In what will become a standard work in the field of Greek dress, Llewellyn-Jones hereafter L-J offers the first full-length examination of the veiling of women in the ancient Greek world from c. His study covers the entirety of the ancient Greek world and argues that veiling was routine for women of varying social strata, especially when they appeared in public or before unrelated males. While L-J asserts that the women who veiled their heads subscribed to this male ideology, he argues that veiling did not simply entail female powerlessness in the face of male authority.
A veil is an article of clothing or hanging cloth that is intended to cover some part of the head or face , or an object of some significance. Veiling has a long history in European, Asian, and African societies. The practice has been prominent in different forms in Judaism , Christianity , and Islam. The practice of veiling is especially associated with women and sacred objects, though in some cultures it is men rather than women who are expected to wear a veil. Besides its enduring religious significance, veiling continues to play a role in some modern secular contexts, such as wedding customs. Elite women in ancient Mesopotamia and in the Greek and Persian empires wore the veil as a sign of respectability and high status. A wife-of-a-man, or [widows], or [Assyrian] women who go out into the main thoroughfare [shall not have] their heads [bare].
Photo: DR. Public domain. Contrary to widespread belief, Greek women wore veils only in particular contexts. Evidence of this can be found, first and foremost, in countless images of indoor and outdoor scenes, which, though they are not photographic copies of reality, do refer to the most common representations. See Gallery 1 below. The scene depicted on the red-figure Attic cup by the Amphitrite Painter, dating from B. Here, just one woman wears a veil on her head, and her face is exposed: she is the bride in this wedding ritual. Her future husband holds her by the wrist, for it is the moment when he leads her to her new house. The other women are not veiled; they are perhaps the mothers of the newlyweds, and hold torches to light the ritual. The woman behind the bride wears a sakkos a cloth to keep the hair back on her head; the woman standing at the door of the house is bare-headed, her hair in a bun.