An Enchanting Narrative of Saudi Arabia’s Flower Men
Tihama and Asir tribes inhabit the Jizan and Asir provinces of Saudi Arabia. These tribes are known for their legendary headpieces that are made of flowers; a tradition that they’ve been following for many centuries. The wreaths that adorn their heads are bejeweled with fresh colourful and scented flowers. Let me take you on this floral journey that will make you decorate your head with a floral headpiece too. And these flower men are nice enough to welcome the visitors by putting a garland on their heads (so don’t worry if you don’t know how to wear it correctly).
Flower Men of Saudi Arabia
Whenever people think of Saudi Arabia, quite often than not, it is associated with a desert. Sorry to burst your bubble guys, but the kingdom of Saudi Arabia encompasses a lot more than just the sun and the sands. This Middle Eastern country is home to over 2,000 varieties of flora.
The tradition of flower-wearing
The process of garland and wreath weaving begins early in the morning in the local markets such as Sabya or Addair. Those who want to purchase these masterpieces made of flowers flock to the market in the morning as it gets scorching hot as the noon approaches.
Of course, if you don’t like any of the ready-made wreaths, you can also customize them as per your desire. Most locals like to go for a headpiece made with wild herbs, jasmine, fenugreek, and marigold. These wreaths have also become a fashion statement for the men of these tribes. You can find men flaunting their henna-dyed beard matching with their wreaths.
Significance of headpieces
Flowers are not randomly picked and weaved into the headpiece or the garland. It’s a much more thoughtful process than what it might seem to the outsiders who are not familiar with the flower-men’s way of lives. Flowers and herbs are selected in such a way that the final product synchronizes with the traditional attire. Apart from aesthetics, these wreaths also possess medicinal properties. They are known to cure headaches.
Lifestyle of flower-men
Mountains are the traditional abode of these men. In olden times, it gave them a broader view of the geographical area to enable them to be prepared in case of any potential dangers. Flower-men cultivate coffee and khat (a stimulant drug) on terraces. However, it is to be noted that drugs are banned in the whole of Saudi Arabia except for this region. Possession of any kind of drug is punishable by law and can even lead to a death penalty.
They live in mud-brick houses with the meticulously painted walls following a similar colour scheme as their headpieces. This art of painting, known as Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, is practiced by women and has been listed by UNESCO.
The Tihama and Asir tribes are known for their combat skills and for a really long time were indisposed to mingling with outsiders. However, things have changed a lot in the past few years, and the tribes are now welcoming towards the visitors.