Covering the Head in Canaanite Revivalism (Natib Qadish)
By Tess Dawson
The head symbolizes much in Near Eastern philosophy. Curses and blessings alike are directed at a person’s head: “may there be a blessing on X’s head” or “may [Deity] break X’s skull.” The head is also a place of honor: the raising of the head or the placing a crown or wreath on the brow represents recognition. The lowering of the head represents shame, anxiety, or lack of confidence. In this sense, wearing something atop the head represents dignity or status. In Canaanite art workmen usually do not wear hats or head coverings, however upper class men typically do.
In the ancient Canaanite world, men and women alike would typically wear a head covering, hat or scarf. Workmen often kept their heads uncovered or wore a simple headband around their heads, but chances were that if they entered a temple, they would be dressed differently than for work. Women often would wear scarves, likely indicative of a marital status like wearing a wedding ring is in modern Western culture. Working class women or lower class women would wear headbands across the forehead and around the crown of the head. A hatless man often indicated common laborer, a lower-class citizen, or a slave. Canaanite art shows gods and upper-class men and gods often wearing hats, and sometimes wearing shawls with thick rolled hems or fringe.