The Melhfa, the Saharawi female beauty
Melhfa is a four miter long by one miter wide piece of fabric.It is not any ordinary piece of cloth; it is the symbol of the Saharawi female beauty. Melhfa has existed with the existence of the Saharawi culture. Many people may view it as religious, specifically Muslim symbol. However, the Melhfa is strictly cultural and unique to the Saharawi people. It comes in variety of colors, patterns and material. It can be one color, three or ten. It may be simple or with artistic shapes and patterns or even with the flag of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. The Melhfa has different names depending on the colors; the material is made of and even sometimes group age of the women.
The Melhfa – when you think about it – is very practical in the life of people like the Saharawis. A country like Western Sahara is mostly deserts and hence, the weather is dry and hot. In addition, there are many sand-storms. For these reasons, the Melhfa can serve as a mean of protection from the harsh natural condition. Not only that, but also the fact that the Melhfa makes the Saharawi women exceptional and different from the rest of the women.
Usually, the Melhfas (the plural of Melhfa) with light colors such as pink, white, light green and blue are for young females. Whereas, the darker colors such as black, brown and dark navy are for older women. The thickness of the material can vary as well. The Talab – which literarily means youth – is the thin and more transparent fabric. The Talab is mostly worn by young girl when they first start wearing the Melhfa. On the contrary, there is the Galith – which literarily means thick – is for the elder women. In between Talab and Galith, there is the Sheegaa. In addition, there is Swesra, Sarou, which is more like the Indian Sari and the most important Enilla. The Enilla is the most traditional type of the Melhfas. It is made of a very thick material and gives out a sort of paint called Enilla, which is believed to be very good for the skin and helps against the sun radiations.
The most traditional way of wearing the Melhfa is called Etaglidee. It is basically part of Enilla and plan white Melhfa worn together. The woman would wear the Enilla part on the upper body and the white piece, which is called Le-Zaar around the waist. The Etaglidee is usually worn in special occasions and celebrations, but nowadays it is mostly worn for weddings. The bride would wear the Etaglidee in the first day of the wedding.
Therefore, if there is anything that the Saharawi women should be proud of is that of the Melhfa. I must admit that it is not very easy to learn how to wear it and even more difficult to do daily activities while wearing it. Nevertheless, it is beautiful and is a great symbol of the Saharawi culture.