Lebanon: The Tantour

Tantour on a doll from the 1960s
Tantour on a doll from the 1960s

The most elaborate of all Lebanese headdresses was the tantour, a silver cone worn by married noblewomen. The tantour is obsolete nowadays. The history of the tantour is thought to go back a long time. It is thought that it may be one and the same with the tantour described in the tales of a Thousand and One Nights (8th CE onwards). Also, the similarity of the tantour and the conical headdress of European women from the time of the Crusades during the 15th century has led to the hypothesis that the tantour may have been introduced to Lebanon by the Crusaders. On the other hand, evidence from the Greco-Roman reliefs at Kartaba, Lebanon, shows that a sort of cut-off cone headdress with a veil was worn in Lebanon much earlier than the Crusader period.

The tantour was most popular in the early 19th century. It was seldom seen after 1850, though the Druze community kept its use for longer. Its height and composition were in proportion to the wealth of its owner. The most splendid tantours were of gold and as high as 30 inches (75 cm). They were encrusted with diamonds, pearls and other precious jewels. Some tantours were made of silver. To hold this unwieldy headdress in place, holes were pierced in the base of the tantour to attach ribbons for trying around the head. A silk scarf was wound around the base of the tantour and a white veil floated from its peak.

The tantour was the headdress of the married women of the mountains and was a customary gift presented to the bride by her husband on their wedding day. Young girls wore them rarely, and then only if they were of noble birth. Since it was an honoured headdress, it is said that the tantour was rarely removed, even for sleeping.

Druze woman with tantour from 1870
Druze woman with tantour from 1870

References

http://almashriq.hiof.no/general/600/640/646/costumes_of_the_Levant/origin.html

http://www.thelovelyplanet.net/traditional-dress-of-lebanon/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Lebanon#Fashion

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tantour

Pictures

  1. By Félix Bonfils (d. 1885) – http://mideastimage.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2409557
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