Bahraini silk overhead abaya (abayah ra’as)

I wanted to finally share with you all the Bahraini abaya ra’as I got over the weekend at the huge (dare I say massive) Manama Suq!  I love it, its sooo nice, mashallah! (ya’ll say mashallah now, ya hear!). Its definetly going to be reserved for slightly nicer wearing…not everyday as its a one-of a kind piece and it would be hard to replace once I leave the region.

Anyway, the Bahraini silk ra’as is pretty unique in the region, I think they are really the only people who make the ra’as from pure shiny silk (they call it Japanese silk, while everyone else calls it Bahraini silk) and with it being pieced so there is an internal seam which shapes the abaya…I know Kuwaiti’s still prefer the seamed ra’as as well, but they dont go for the silk kind and here in KSA you just see the Saudi kind which is made of double width crepe or satin with a shaped hem and which is either entirely closed of has snaps down the front.  Another stark difference is I noticed that unlike the Saudi kind, the Bahraini kind stays on the head extremely well, like you can walk without holding it down so it slides off…its rather incredible. I think there is something about their construction which makes them balanced well, also the portion which sits on the head is extremely wide and long, if you notice…you’ll see that the place where the back piece of the abaya attaches to the 2 front pieces is extremely long and the pieces which are the front pieces join where about my cheeks are, I think this longer area curves the head better, again, aiding it staying put. The Saudi ones are much shorter in this area. (I hope that makes sense!)

Also, this one is entirely hand-stitched, except for the inner seam which is machine stitched. All the other seams are hand done and there is this really narrow crochet-like edging on all the edges…the hem is just the raw edge of the fabric, no hemming as again, the shape of the abaya is done with the inside seam.

There is also this really, really big piece of slightly grippier material hand stitched into the head area to help it stay on and it really works!

lets see its construction…

(close-up of hand-stitching and edging at the inner seam area)

(showing inner seam construction)

(close up of the hem)

(close-up of head area of the abaya)

(view of the inside of the abaya at the head portion-another piece of fabric is stitched in to aid it staying on the head)

The silk is extremely, extremely light and I seriously don’t even feel it when its on my head, even the light weight high quality Saudi saloona feels quite weighty in comparison also the shop I went to (and I guess all the ra’as shops) has several grades of silk for the ra’as.  This one was the best, there was also medium grade “Chinese” silk which was a bit thicker, a lower grade which didnt feel as nice and a mixed synthetic which was more crepe-feeling and didnt look as nice-I thought. They also had ones which were machine stitched.

But I thought, if I’m gonna get one…go for the gold and plus the price was on par with the silk abayaat ive seen in KSA. And even then the silk on those wasnt as nice.

anyway so we went into the suq and the first abaya shop I saw I went in and inquired about the harir ra’as (silk overhead) and the guy in the shop told me they dont have them but then took me a few streets away to an area with several ra’as shops beside each other and into one specific shop. If we had had time, I would have probably gone to several shops…but I figured, OK, I’m sure they are all going to be about the same and I went in and inquired and they showed me several kinds and told me their prices. My husband was standing there rather skeptical about them being real silk and then I stepped out to discuss it with the hubbster…because again, I would usually get “you have enough of x-style of abaya…how many more do you need? (typical guy thing!)…but incredibly, dh didnt say this and just agreed that if I wanted it I should get it (after all ive been blabbing in this ears for the entire time we’ve bene here about those darn silk Bahraini ra’as! LOL). So we went back and I asked them if they could give me a better price and they did, so I went in…did I mention the shop was the side of a closet! Seriously, a tiny closet with stacks of boxes full of the read-made 9semi-finished) ra’as abayaat and niqabs lining the walls. So I went in and in that tiny, tiny place picked the one I wanted and put it on, the owner had to chalk on it the length which would suit me-they wear them long, like how I like…as Bahraini women usually walk holding them up and under their arms (similar to how one wears a chador) so the longer length is fine.  Anyway, I took it off and the guy then literally threw it up above his head into this tiny, tiny hole and said something to the guy (tailor) seated up above the shop. I was told to come back in 10minutes, I paid and we left to go and get our thirsty little son some juice. After a short while I came back and got it and then while my son and husband were seated drinking juice I examined it and tried it on.

I ladore it-mashallah


5 thoughts on “Bahraini silk overhead abaya (abayah ra’as)

  1. Masha’Allah! Insha’Allah I will order one as soon as possible. From your description it seems very much like the one I had many years ago. It also balanced on top of my head perfectly and was very comfortable to wear.

  2. Wow, I don’t think the ra’as is something I would wear a lot, but it is absolutely beautiful! It is definitely worth the price for hand-stitching and 100% silk. Thanks for sharing sis!

  3. Hmm with ordinary overheads I actually find that if the part on the head is smaller it hangs better and stays on without needing pins etc, I have some like the above and they slide all over the place and fall off; whereas I know shorter sisters who have closed style Saudi overheads with a smaller ‘headpiece’ and they stay on really well compared to mine; it is probably the silk as it just has different draping qualities; and the fact they put the grippy fabric on the underside that is helping it to stay on much better….

  4. Assalam alaikum sister, I saw this abaya when I was staying in the Gulf and I am not fond of the middle stiching as for me it takes the beauty out of the whole abaya.I absolutely love the material and silk is so lucious, I really really want to make myself one inshaALLAH when I go to Saudi (make du’as for me please that this day comes soon,I have been waiting for so long)
    could you tell me please do the harir (reall one) comes in double lenght? so we don’t have to stich in the middle? and how much is the meter? ya’ni overall about how much do you reckon it would cost me to make a batwing silk abaya? Aslo I absolutely love the Iranian chadors you posted but how can we get hold of those?are they expensive and the material what is it like? They look lovely…. do you sell nikabs and abaya Ra’as did I understand right? how much is it? lots of questions I know sorry…:)

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