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The Masks of Southern Iran - 2007
Despite many women who cite religious motives for wearing their masks, the tradition predates Islam. Among rural communities in southern Iran, many masks wearers say the custom is first alluded to in the Koran, but the practice seems to trace its origins to the nomadic societies of the region, with both men and women, who wore the masks to protect their faces from the sun and strong desert winds. The practice has stayed with the people, and today the masks can still be found in rural parts of Iran, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Young women who live where the practice is common often keep their faces covered from their boyfriends until they are engaged. Men in these areas no longer don the masks, but women, especially the older members of these communities, still take the tradition very seriously.
Roya, 12, wears the mask when she feels like it.
Gohar, 26, 2 children, housewife, wears the mask for religous reasons and to protect her skin.
Zobeydeh Ostovar, 30, 5 children, housewife, wears the mask for religous reasons and to protect her skin.
Fatemeh, 50, 10 children, housewife, wears the mask only to protect her skin.
Fatima, 65, 6 children, selling tobacco at the market, wears the mask for religous reasons.
Mashadi Reisi, 55, 6 children. selling tobacco at the market, wears the mask for religous reasons.
Zeynab, app. 60, 10 children but 6 is dead, housewife, wears the mask, for religous reasons and to protect her skin.
Mrs. Ostovar, 55, 8 children, housewife, wears the mask for religous reasons and to protect her skin. She has three different masks.
Gohar, 20, 1 child, housewife, wears the mask for religous reasons and to protect her skin.
Armaneh, 35, 5 children, housewife, wears the mask, for religous reasons and to protect her skin.
Alemeh, 40, selling scarfs on the street.