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In Italy, veils, including face veils, were worn in some regions until the 1970s.Women in southern Italy often covered their heads to show that they were modest, well-behaved and pious.
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They would also have been used, as an alternative to a mask, as a simple method of hiding the identity of a woman who was traveling to meet a lover, or doing anything she didn't want other people to find out about.
More pragmatically, veils were also sometimes worn to protect the complexion from sun and wind damage (when un-tanned skin was fashionable), or to keep dust out of a woman's face, much as the keffiyeh is used today.
Christian Byzantine literature expressed rigid norms pertaining to veiling of women, which have been influenced by Persian traditions, although there is evidence to suggest that they differed significantly from actual practice.
Since Islam identified with the monotheistic religions practiced in the Byzantine and Sassanian empires, in the aftermath of the early Muslim conquests veiling of women was adopted as an appropriate expression of Qur'anic ideals regarding modesty and piety.
The practice of veiling gradually declined in much of the Muslim world during the 20th century before making a comeback in recent decades.