Entry 2: 101 Uses for the Man-Shawl


“In a culture of excess, even overabundance is deficient.”


Hello Beloveds! Urbndervish here.

We received some positive feedback regarding my “Revolution: One Meal at a Time”. We would also like to hear some positive and negative experiences from those who tried this. Remember, we are not feigning perfection; rather, we are simply sharing from our own experiences and hope to bring benefit to you thereof. Which brings us to our next topic…

Scarves, shawls, wraps, stoles, etc. Whatever we call them, they are an accessory that many women, young and old, utilize. However, many of us don’t realize that in many cultures, shawls are also added accessories for men.

In Hadhramaut, (and in Yemen, in general), all of the men wear shawls; whether they are office workers or manual laborers. Many of the shawls that I notice differ just as much as the people differ themselves. For example, one could readily notice a rugged pastoralist wearing a pastel shawl with tassels.

I know that the title of this entry is “101 Uses for the Man-Shawl”; however, I am only listing ten. It is up to you to individually develop the other 91 uses. You will come up with them once you get your man-shawl.      


1.)    Tablecloth- Yes, the man-shawl can double as a fashionable tablecloth/picnic blanket for those who would like to eat outside of the house. Imagine taking the family out on the lawn one late afternoon for a fruit salad or such. You can simply spread the man-shawl over the ground and “go to town” on a handful of grapes, cantaloupe, and such. You can also break the dining room monotony and eat your one meal on the living room floor. Just spread the shawl like a blanket on the floor, spread your casserole dishes, and pass the vegan pakoras. Why not just use a blanket, you ask? A blanket is a lot more cumbersome to wash than a man-shawl. 

2.)    Sleeping Mat– There were many times during my lunch breaks at work where I would find an empty room, spread my man-shawl, and take a thirty minute nap. That sounds weird, I know. What should I do during my lunch break, eat lunch?! Apparently, you didn’t read the one meal a day article! The noonday nap was a lot more refreshing than eating lunch. After my siesta, I woke up more energetic and ready for the second half of my day than I would have if I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. I would simply lay my man-shawl on the floor and start counting sheep.  

3.)    Blanket– For those who may take your nap in a lot cooler place, you can use your man-shawl as a blanket. Since my man-shawl was made of a light wool, I was able to use it as an effective means as protection from the cold. I remember when I went to a youth camp, the nights were cold and eternitysojourner was not there, so I simply wrapped myself in my man-shawl like a cocoon and emerged from it that next morning fully-rested and ready to gaily frolic amongst the dandelions. It can also serve as an impromptu baby blanket when you take the family out and baby falls asleep.  

4.)    Turban/Tagelmust– If you find yourself on camel-back in the Saharan desert, your man-shawl can be tied as a Tuareg turban (tagelmust). Okay, granted, many of us might not find ourselves in the Western Sahara! However, even in our metropolitan environs, the man-shawl can be utilized as an “urban turban.” (See picture above) There were many bitter winters where I tied my man-shawl into an urban turban to protect my head and face from the cold. Sure, you can use a skullcap or a ski-mask, but an urban turban is so much more chic. It can also serve as a conversation starter to the blue-haired old lady curiously staring at you when you sit next to her on the bus!

5.)    Sun-visor– For centuries, men in the East have been using man-shawls as sun-visors. I still utilize my man-shawl as protection from the brutal rays of the desert sun here. You can simply drape the shawl over your head with the two ends hanging in front of you. You can also take one of the ends and throw it over the opposite shoulder to ensure that the wind does not blow it off. Okay, you may look like Max Von Sydow from “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, but it will give you some much needed shade from the sun.  

6.)    Sling– Your man-shawl can serve as an over-the-shoulder sling to carry, pretty much, anything; ranging from a baby to your grocery. It is a shame that most of us in the western world (with the exception of indigenous, Peruvian women) have forsaken the use of slings. It’s even more of a shame that we are so caught up into gender roles that we confine slings to women! Slings are so much more practical to use and you can save money on baby carriages and plastic bags. Also, your baby will get so much more assurance and security being strapped comfortably to the warm body of its parent rather than being so far removed from you while being pushed in an overpriced, plastic cart.  

7.)    Sarong– How many times have this happened? You are in the shower humming the tune to that catchy song that you don’t know the lyrics to. The doorbell rings. You clumsily reach for a towel to cover yourself as you race to the door. You open the door and stand dripping wet with a stained towel around your waist. Whoever is on the other side of the door knows that you clumsily grabbed for a towel to cover yourself. How about instead of grabbing for a towel, grab for your trusty man-shawl? It seems a lot more intentional to be clad in a delicately-patterned man-shawl tied as a sarong than a mystery-stained towel! You will look better and appear as culturally enhanced.  

8.)    Ironing sheet In the absence of an ironing board, your man-shawl can serve as an impromptu ironing sheet. Instead of fiddling around trying to assemble an ironing board, just fold over your trusty man-shawl, lay it on the ground, and iron your clothes upon it.

9.)    Accessory– We already mentioned this but a man-shawl can serve as an added accessory to any outfit. Granted, accessories are not stressed enough in men’s wardrobes, but in most cases, the right accessory can be the difference between “simple” and “sophisticated.” Simply fold your man-shawl into a scarf and casually drape it around your neck. Just by adding it to one’s daily wardrobe, it will make a chubby slob in a pair of wrinkled jeans and faded T-shirt look like a boho-chic drama instructor at the local community college.   

10.) Prayer/Meditation Mat– Carrying a prayer rug or yoga mat could be         cumbersome for those of us who are interested in maintaining a sense of    spirituality but are constantly on the go. Instead, why not just remove your man-  shawl, fold it into a rectangle, lay it on the ground, and ascend.

       As you can see, there are various uses for the man-shawl! This piece of garment can serve many functions and is truly a perfect blend of functionality and fashion! It can also take the place of and circumvent one from buying needless things that the man-shawl could easily replace.

      Those of you who are too manly to utilize a man-shawl and believe that the aforementioned uses are too “fem” can simply use the man-shawl to playfully pop each other on the bottom in your next nude towel-fight in the men’s locker room.


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