The Jack Daulton Collection
Antique & Ethnographic Art

Berber Shawl,

Siwa Oasis, Egypt


shawl (derfudit, also known as milayah or milayer)

blue and white chequered cotton cloth, with silk or rayon embroidered geometric decoration

66 x 72 inches (168 x 183 cm)

Berber people

Siwa Oasis, Egypt (western Egypt, near border with Libya)

age uncertain; however, definitely a used garment, probably dating from mid-to-late 20th century

appears to be signed by the embroiderer in Arabic lower right corner, using purple-colored thread

provenance: collected in Siwa by Jack Daulton in 2006

condition: good, with a few stains and small holes (two of which are rustically repaired) consistent with daily wear and tear from use

Publication history of this shawl:

Rebecca J. Martin, "Shifting Sands: Changing Textile Traditions in Egypt's Western Desert," PieceWork, Fall 2021, pgs. 22-27, ill. at pg. 26.


This type of shawl is a married-woman's modesty garment, a garment used by married women of Siwa, an isolated Berber enclave in western Egypt, to cover themselves, when they leave the house.  The cotton is woven in Kerdassa, Egypt, far to the east near Giza, and then transported along the desert caravan route (now highway) to Siwa, "where women stitch together two panels and cover the join [and other areas] with colorful embroidery." Martin at pg. 26.

General References:

John Gillow, African Textiles (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2003), pg. 130.

British Museum AN511968001

detail 1:

detail 2:

detail 3: