Agal (accessory)

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A Bahraini man wearing agal.

The agal (Arabic: عقال‎‎, ‘iqāl: "bond" or "rope"), also spelled iqal, egal or igal, is an accessory worn usually by Arab men. It is a black cord, worn doubled, used to keep the ghutrah in place on the wearer's head.[1]

It is usually worn by Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, Ahwaz , Inhabitant of Eastern Coast of Gulf Known as Houle Arabs of Iran) with the exception of Yemen and Oman. And in Levant (Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon).


Black Agal worn by Bedouin Chief of Palmyra of Syria photo by Félix Bonfils in 1870

There are several types of Agal that worn based on occasions and Social status

  • Black Agal which is made of goat fleece
  • White Agal
  • The Alzari Agal, that worn at national occasions and celebrations
  • Alwaber Agal which is made of camel hair (and has a light brown or white color)
  • Almuqassab and It is often worn by the dignitaries and princes and called Almuqassab because it is braid with gold or silver threads


The using of agal and even Keffiyah based on antiquities including bas-reliefs and statues goes back to the ancient times, As we can trace it in semitic middle eastern civilizations like old Babylon [Photo], Elam [today Ahwaz] artifacts such as Elamite coins and figures and even in ancient Arabia kingdoms, Phd. Ernst Herzfeld (23 July 1879 – 20 January 1948) The well known German archaeologist and Elamologist in his book "Iran In The Ancient East", in referring to the Susa bas-reliefs points to the unique head wear of Elamites[Photo] that distinguished them from other nations which is an ancient Arab aqal :

"These are the Susian [Elamites] regiments (which have left their trace in the shape of the 30,000 Elamite tablets of their officers)They are distinguieshed from the Median guards by their uniform, and from the Persians by their different head dress, a Kind of Arab 'aqal"[2]

See also[edit]

It is said in Aswan Egypt that each band of an Agal represents 1000 family members of the wearer.