A folio from the Akhlaq-i Nasiri, 13th century; via Wikimedia Commons

How the Turban of Islam Changed the Text of a Daily Blessing

The sudra (סודרא) is a headdress mentioned frequently in the Talmud Bavli. It’s precise nature and form is obscure, but evidence indicates that it was a headdress which wrapped the head, neck, and upper torso similar to the modern-day Bedouin keffiyeh [1]. According to the Talmud Bavli a special blessing was made when it was worn:

כי פריס סודרא על רישיה לימא ברוך עוטר ישראל בתפארה

When he spreads a sudra over his head he should say: ‘Blessed is He who crowns Israel with glory’- Brachot 60b, Talmud Standard Vilna edition

It is clear from a responsum of the Gaonim cited in R. Zedekiah ben Abraham Anav’s (Italy, 1210 – ca. 1280) Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ [2] that this blessing underwent a unique history:

וכן מצאתי בתשובות שהסיר רב עמרם גאון זצ”ל עוטה ישראל בתפארה,

לפי שאין עטיפת סודר נוהגת במקומנו. וגם רב נטרואי גאון זצ”ל לא כתב עוטה ישראל בתפארה.

… so I found in the response collections that Rav Amram Gaon zt”l (d. 875) removed [the blessing of] “Who cloaks Israel with glory” because the wrapping of the sudra is no longer practiced amongst us. Also Rav Natronai Gaon zt”l (second half of the 9th century) did not write of [the blessing] “Who cloaks Israel with glory” [because it is no longer relevant].

The ruling of the Gaonim was upheld and this Talmudic blessing was omitted by later authorities, including R’ Yitchak Al-fasi (1013 – 1103) in his Halachot in which only relevant matters are discussed[3]. However, the blessing was revived in Maimonides’s Yad HaChazaka (late 12th century) and by subsequent poskim and prayer books. Maimonides’s Yad HaChazakah reads:

כשמניח סדינו על ראשו–מברך ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם, עוטר ישראל בתפארה

Why would a blessing of the Talmud that was declared obsolete by the leading Gaonim be later revived? Was Maimonides familiar with a different dress custom than the Gaonim and Rif?

Textual Variants
Clues for the reason for the transformation in halachic attitude towards this blessing may be gathered from evolving textual variants. The Gaonim (as cited in Anav) possessed a Talmud text which read עוטה – “cloaks”[4]. A similar reading is found in the Munich MS (Rabinowitz’s Dikdukei Sofrim) – עוטה אור כשלמה. The siddur of R. Saadya Gaon[5] (d. Baghdad, 942) includes a variant readingישראל בתפארה  עוטף – which has a similar or identical meaning to עוטה. R. Isaiah di Trani[6] (the Elder) (Italy, c. 1180 – c. 1250) and R. Menachem HaMeiri[7] (Provence, 1249 – c. 1310) preserved ברוך עוטה ישראל בתפארה in their Talmud commentaries.
The עוטר ישראל בתפארה variant appears in Maimonides (as cited), Nahmanides, (Spain, 1194–1270) and R’ Zerachiah ha-Levi (Spain and Provence, d. ~1186) in their works, Milhamot HaShem and Sefer Ha-Maor Ha-Katan (pages of Al-fasi 44:a)[8].


It is very clear from Amram Gaon (and Natronai Gaon) that the Talmud in their possession read עוטה because the reason they offered for rendering the blessing defunct, “לפי שאין עטיפת סודר נוהגת במקומנו” – “wrapping of the sudra is not performed in our territories,” shows that they understood the blessing was recited over an עטייה/עטיפה – a cloaking/wrapping action. Their text did not read ‘עוטר’ (– ‘Who crowns’).

Gradual Transition
Focusing on a) the Gaonim, b) R’ Yitchak Al-fasi, and c) Maimonides, a gradual textual transition is apparent.

  1. Originally, the Talmudic blessing text was עוטה ישראל בתפארה; then the Gaonim, observing that the particular item of clothing the blessing was intended for, the sudra, was no longer in vogue, ruled that the blessing should be discontinued. (Saadya redirected the blessing to a different garment as shall be explained shortly.)
  2. One and a half centuries later, R. Al-fasi decided he could just ignore this blessing and not mention it in his purely practical code[9].
  3. By the time of Maimonides, the blessing was restored but with a slight deviation in one letter – עוטר ישראל בתפארה, which brought with it a new meaning – ‘Who crowns Israel with glory’. As we shall see, the head covering which was popular in Maimonides’s era was appropriately described as a crown and therefore the blessing was revived.

Shifting Headgear Styles
It is possible that עוטה ישראל בתפארה became עוטר ישראל בתפארה by means of a scribal error: the shape of letters hei and reish in עוטר andעוטה  are similar enough to be mistakenly interchanged.
However, these textual variants may reflect the evolving headdress styles from waning Persian-Sassanian-Zoroastrian culture – i.e. the Talmud’s sudra – to the newer Islamic turban familiar to Maimonides. Pre-Islamic Arabs did not wear a turban. The turban, borrowed from Indian eastern cultures, slowly became popular in the Islamic world over the eighth through tenth centuries. As described by historian David Nicolle[10]:

Turbans were not characteristic of the Persians or early Arabs but were adopted by the latter during their conquest of Afghanistan and the frontier regions of India. In other words, this form of turban … become fashionable among the Arab Muslims five hundred years later (~8th century).

As its popularity grew, tales abounded about the prophet Muhammad (570 – 632) having worn a turban to victorious battles, reinforcing the new headdress style[11]. As the turban became the new norm in their surrounding society, Jews adopted it as well[12]. The turban sits on top of the head without wrapping the neck or shoulders. Therefore, placing a turban upon one’s head (in Maimonides’s words – כשמניח סדינו על ראשו) is more correctly described as a ‘crowning’ (עוטר) than a ‘cloaking’ (עוטה). Another reason ‘crowning’ is deserved for the turban is as follows:

The Crown of Islam
עוטר ישראל בתפארה was a very appropriate improved version of the blessing to be recited upon adorning the turban for Jews living in the medieval Islamic world. The turban was viewed as a form of crown in Islamic culture and theology:

In a frequently quoted Hadith, the Prophet designated the turban as “the crown of the Arabs”…
According to certain traditions, when Adam descended to earth, a turban was placed on his head as a substitute for the crown he had worn in paradise. The association of turbans with crowns was preserved both by Sufis and member of the chivalrous sodalities: They designated as tāǰ (crown) the distinctive types of turban they wore. …
Not only did the turban function as a reminder of primordial dignity through its association with Adam, it was also thought to be the headgear of the angels. ʿAlī related that the Prophet once bound a turban on his head, allowing the ends to hang down in front and behind; he then remarked, “The crowns of the angels are thus” (Kanz al-ʿommāl XX, p. 45).  …
When the Prophet wound a turban around ʿAlī’s head at Ḡadīr Ḵomm, allowing one end to hang down between his shoulder blades, he said: “God aided me at the battles of Badr and Ḥonayn with angels who wore their turbans this way” (Kanz al-ʿommāl XX, p. 44). …
Given these qualities of the turban, it is not surprising that to dream of a turban has traditionally been interpreted as auspicious—as a sign of the impending acquisition of power, rank, wealth, or a pious wife (e.g., ʿAbd-al-Ḡanī Nāblosī, Taʿṭīr al-anām fī taʿbīr al-manām, Cairo, n.d., II, pp. 104-05; Moḥammad-Bāqer Maǰlesī [?], Taʿbīr-e ḵᵛāb, Tehran, n.d., p. 32).[13]

The third official headdress of the Omayyad caliphs was the turban. Although it was the quintessential headdress for all males in the Islamic world, according to Arabic sources, it also remained important as a royal symbol through the ʿAbbasid period, being the speci­fied headgear on certain ceremonial occasions. For example, the turban was donned by each caliph at his installation, and a black turban (the chosen color of the ʿAbbasids) was presented to the Saljuq sultan Ṭoḡrel Beg (429-55/1038-63) on his entry into Baghdad (Levy, pp. 331, 332, 336). Ṭoḡrel Beg is portrayed on a gold medallion wearing an elaborate, tulip-shaped turban (Sourdel-Thomine and Spuler, pl. 267b).[14]

The Original Minhag Ashkenaz
In Europe, where neither the Talmud’s sudra nor the Arabs’ turban were worn, we should expect that the headdress blessing in any of its forms was omitted. In fact, evidence from several sources reveals that the common practice amongst medieval European Jewry was not to say this blessing:

A) R. Asher ben Shaul of Narbonne (13th century France) in his Sefer haMinhagot (pg. 141) [15] recorded that the blessing was not cited in his region:

ומי שעוטר מצנפת כמו שעושין בספרד מברך עוטר ישראל בתפארה שדומה לעטרת, והזכיר ישראל מפני שכינה שהיא שורה עליהם, ולא יתכן שילכו בגלוי ראש ועל כן קשר להם כתרים בסיני לכל אחד, וכן אמרו בתלמוד (קידושין לא א) שכינה למעלה מראשי, ולא כן הגוים. מכל מקום (הוא) משמע שאע”פ שאין אנו מתעטרין במצנפת אנו מתעטרין בכובעין דין הוא שנברך עוטר ישראל אלא שאין מנהגנו לומר כן, ונראה בעיני שהמנהג שלנו שאין אנו מברכין משום דאין כל ישראל מכסין ראשיהם והולכין בגילוי הראש.

Asher recognized that עוטר ישראל בתפארה was an appropriate blessing for the turban because “it resembles a crown” (דומה לעטרת).

B) R. David Abudirham, a resident of 14th century Christian Spain, in his enumeration of the morning blessings in Sefer Abudirham [16] (1339) skips any version of the head-covering blessing. In a later chapter he wrote [17]:

ועוד מוסיף בגמ’ כשמניח סדינו על ראשו מברך עוטר ישראל בתפארה על שם (שם קג, ד) המעטרכי חסד ורחמים ועל שם (ישעיה מט, ג) ישראל אשר בך אתפאר. והטעם לברכה זו לפי שהיו עוטרים מצנפת כדי שלא ילכו בגלוי הראש. ואמר כאן ישראל לפי שהשכינה שורה עליהם ולא על הגוים. ובכל ארץ ישמעאל נוהגין לאומרה מפני שהם מניחים מצנפת על ראשם, אבל באלו הארצות אין נוהגין לאמרה כי אינם מניחין מצנפת. אבל נוהגין לומר ברכה אחרת שאינה נזכרת בגמרא …

The intention of Abudirham appears to be that in Christian Spain (“these lands”) the turban was not worn by Jews and therefore no headdress blessing was said, unlike in North Africa and the Levant [18].

C) Further support for this being the original minhag Ashkenaz is the omission of the sudra/turban blessing in Rokeach (Germany, c. 1176–1238, ספר הרוקח המשך הלכות ברכות סימן שסה), Siddur R’ Shlomo MiGermiza (Worms, Germany, d. 1096), and Siddur Hasidei Ashkenaz [19] (12th century Germany, Siman 5 ברכות השחר) and Ra’avyah [20] (Germany,1140–1225).

D) It is noteworthy that the עוטה variant has been preserved in the writings of R. Zedekiah ben Abraham Anav and Isaiah di Trani (the Elder) from Italy, R. Menachem HaMeiri from Provence, and the Munich MS from 14th century Germany. All these sources were in countries removed from the influence of Islamic culture and therefore had no external stimulus pressing to adapt the text.

The Kos shel Bracha Proof
Additional proof that the original text of the Talmud’s blessing was עוטה comes from another passage in the Talmud (Brachot 51a):

תנא עשרה דברים נאמרו בכום של ברכה טעון הדחה ושטיפה חי ומלא עיטור ועיטוף … עיטור רב יהודה מעטרהו בתלמידים רב חסדא מעטר ליה בנטלי … עיטוף רב פפא מעטף ויתיב רב אסי פריס סודרא על רישיה

…it was taught in a Baraita: Ten things have been said in connection with the cup used for grace after meals. It requires to be rinsed and washed, it must be undiluted and full, it requires crowning and wrapping…
‘Crowning’: Rav Yehudah crowned it with disciples; R. Hisda surrounded it with cups…
‘Wrapping’: R. Papa used to wrap himself in his robe and sit down [to say grace over a cup]; R. Assi spread a sudra over his head.

The anonymous redactor of the Talmud associated R’ Assi’s sudra-headdress practice with עיטוף, not עיטור. If the Talmud’s (Brachot 60b) blessing on adorning the sudra was עוטר ישראל בתפארה then the Talmud (Brachot 51a) should have described Rav Assi’s personal custom as a fulfillment of the kos shel bracha’s עיטור and not its עיטוף. Therefore, the association of עיטור with the sudra, manifest in Maimonides’s Yad, was surely post-Talmudic in origin and perhaps began only after the Gaonic era.

Was Maimonides Aware that the Blessing Evolved?
Maimonides wrote in Yad haChazaka Hilchot Tefillah 7:4 –

כשלובש בגדיו–מברך ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם, מלביש ערומים.  כשמניח סדינו על ראשו–מברך ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם, עוטר ישראל בתפארה.

Maimonides altered two parts of the Talmud’s law. The Talmud spoke of פריסת סודר – the spreading out of a sudra. Maimonides replaced the ‘spreads out’ verb withעל  מניח – ‘places upon’. He also applied the blessing to a סדין, not a סודר or סודרא. This careful choice of words was likely intentional. Maimonides’s fine change in language has been observed by R. Hezekiah da Silva [21] (1659–1698):

אבל הר”ם במז”ל כתב וז”ל כשמניח סדינו על ראשו מברך עוטר וכו’,

… דקדק בדבריו ושינה לשון התלמוד דסדין לחוד וסודרא לחוד

Maimonides may have been aware that the Talmud’s sudra was no longer in use and that the original blessing had been adjusted to fit the new turban crown. Though the Gaonim had advised against saying עוטה ישראל בתפארה, Maimonides opined that it is alright to say a revised version (עוטר) as this applied to current headgear.

Historical Timeline of the Turban and Halachot Gedolot
Though Gaonim Amram and Nutrai in the mid-9th century abandoned the headdress blessing it does appear in Halachot Gedolot [22] (Bavel, 8th century). As Islam had already spread throughout the Middle East in the 7th century, why was the sudra still a relevant garment for the author of Halachot Gedolot of the 8th century? Why didn’t Halachot Gedolot rule for this blessing’s omission the same way Gaonim Amram and Nutrai, and R’ Al-fasi did in 9th and 11th centuries?
The answer may be that the turban did not spread and become most dominant across the Islamic world in the first century of Islam (mid-7th century). Coins minted in the 7th and 8th centuries CE show Arab caliphs and governors wearing headgear other than the turban[23]. Muhammad (570 – 632) reportedly wore a turban according to various hadith [24]. Hadith refers to reports of statements or actions of the prophet Muhammad by his companions. Many beliefs and practices in Islam originate from hadith. Though the Quran is the central source of Islamic law, hadith are regarded as important tools for understanding the Quran and commentaries on it. The hadith which report on Muhammad’s customs, including those which speak of the black turban he wore to battle, were variously disputed; some “appeared” long after his lifetime:

Modern Western scholarship has seriously questioned the historicity and authenticity of the hadith maintaining that the bulk of traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad were actually written much later. Joseph Schacht, the most influential modern Western authority on Islamic law… concluded that the term “Sunna of the Prophet” developed for the first time in the eighth century…. Schact found no evidence of legal traditions before 722, one hundred years after the death of Muhammad. Thus, he concluded that the Sunna of the Prophet is not the words and deeds of the Prophet, but apocryphal material … that was projected back to the eighth century to more authoritative sources. [25]

The hadith were likely written after Shimon Kayara (early 8th century) or during the lifetime of Yehudai Gaon (mid 8th century), the two possible authors of Halachot Gedolot, and it is likely that the turban did not become widespread until later.

R. Saadya (d. 942), the Gaon of Sura after Amram and Natronai, described a blessing in his siddur “עוטף ישראל בתפארה”.

(וכשיחגור) חגורה אוזר ישראל בגבורה (וכשפרש עליו) כסות שאין בה ציצית עוטף ישראל בתפארה ושיש בה ציצית להתעטף בציצית

This blessing has a similar verb to עוטה, both meaning “Who wrap/cloaks,” but, according to Saadya, is for reciting when donning a different garment – a cloak which has no tzitzit. Historian Naftali Vieder [26] explained that Saadya knew of his predecessor Amram Gaon’s ruling to cease pronouncing this blessing and understood the historical reason. However, because of Saadya’s lifetime efforts to protect the Oral Law as expressed in the Talmud from Qaraite claims of illegitimacy, he chose to preserve the Talmud’s sudra blessing by redirecting it to a still relevant usage. Saadya did not want his followers to believe that the Talmud was no longer relevant as the Qaraites were eager to argue. For this purpose, Saadya amended the word עוטה slightly to עוטף so that the blessing can be preserved. Saadya was aware however, that historically, the original sudra object of the blessing was no longer in use in his times.

Shelomo ben Natan of Sijilmasa
Another source is R. Shelomo ben Natan of Sijilmasa [27], Morroco, an authority who lived after R. Al-fasi, but before Maimonides. He his siddur he wrote:

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם עוטף ישראל בתפארה

As R. Shelomo gave no directions, it is not clear if this blessing was intended for a head-covering or for a garment without corners like the directive of R. Saadya.

Halachot Gedolot Variants
The text of the BaHaG reads in its Babylonian redaction [28]:

כד פריס סדריה אומר ברוך עוטר ישראל בתפארה

Spanish redaction (Mahadurat Aspamia [29] ):

כי פריס סודריה אומ’ (לימא) ברוך עוטר ישר׳ בגבורה

As argued earlier from the Talmud’s discussion on kos shel bracha, it is unlikely that the sudra was regarded as a form of crown in the time of the Talmud. The text of the BaHaG may be a late scribal error as עוטר is easily confused with עוטה, the difference being a tiny extra mark inside the letter hei. The BaHaG’s text has been accused of error in the past [30]. Alternatively, the two variants existed at a very early period and עוטר became popular later because of the turban’s crown-association in the age of Islam.

Why the Sudra/Turban Blessing is Still Practiced Today
Today Jews no longer wear the Sassanian-Zoroastrian sudra or the Islamic turban. Why is this blessing still in common practice? In a great part, the preservation of this custom can be attributed to Tosfot. The Tosfot from Northern Europe who were removed from the Islamic turban culture creatively reinterpreted ‘Who crowns’ to broadly include all hats and head coverings even those with no cultural crown attributes (Brachot 60b):

כי פריס סודרא על רישיה. וה״ה לכל כובע  ולכל כסוי

This view was cited by Beit Yosef and became the popular practice.



[1] What was the sudra?
a) According to Michael Sokoloff’s A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods (2003) the word sudra is Aramaic and was derived from the Latin word “sudarium“, which means cloth or handkerchief. However, this does not inform of the precise manner in which the sudra was worn.

b) From various sources in the Talmud Bavli we know that the sudra was a head covering; it was worn by scholars and sages, but only after marriage; some wore it during birkat hamazon; it had a mystique associated with it:

Kiddushin 29b implies that only married men wore it:

משתבח ליה רב חסדא לרב הונא בדרב המנונא דאדם גדול הוא א”ל כשיבא לידך הביאהו לידי כי אתא חזייה דלא פריס סודרא א”ל מאי טעמא לא פריסת סודרא א”ל דלא נסיבנא אהדרינהו לאפיה מיניה א”ל חזי דלא חזית להו לאפי עד דנסבת

Hisda praised R. Hamnuna before R. Huna as a great man. Said he to him, ‘When he visits you, bring him to me. When he arrived, he saw that he wore no [head- ]covering.19 ‘Why have you no head-dress?’ asked he. ‘Because I am not married,’ was the reply. Thereupon he [R. Huna] turned his face away from him. ‘See to it that you do not appear before me [again] before you are married,’ said he. R. Huna was thus in accordance with his views. For he said: He who is twenty years of age and is not married spends all his days in sin

Peschchim 111b:

סודריה דמר כי צורבא מדרבנן…

Your ‘sudra’ looks like that of a scholar…

Shabbat 77b:

סודרא סוד ה’ ליראיו

[the phonetics of the word ‘sudra’ hint at the verse:] “the secret of the Lord is known to those who fear him” (the ‘sudra’ being the scholar’s apparel)

Avodah Zara 4a mentions sudra as a scarf.

Brachot 51a: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=1&daf=51&format=pdf

עיטוף רב פפא מעטף ויתיב רב אסי פריס סודרא על רישיה

Kiddushin 8a: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=20&daf=8&format=pdf

אמר רב אשי לא אמרן אלא כגון רב כהנא דגברא רבה הוא w ומיבעי ליה םודרא ארישיה

The Munich MS version (Dikdukei Sofrim) עוטה אור כשלמה is from the verse in Psalms 104:2:

עֹטֶה-אוֹר, כַּשַּׂלְמָה;    נוֹטֶה שָׁמַיִם, כַּיְרִיעָה

Who covers Thyself with light as with a garment, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain.

This source indicates that the sudra was cloak-like (כשלמה). It creates an image of a shawl which covers the head and part of the upper torso as well – similar to the modern day keffiyah worn by many Arabs and Bedouins.

The Gaonim appeared to have known what the sudra was and wrote that the sudra’s blessing should no longer be recited because – לפי שאין עטיפת סודר נוהגת במקומנו – its ‘wrapping’ was no longer common in their time. They described it as a garment which involved wrapping action.

Yitzhak Zimmer, the author of an authoritative historical study on the kippa, noted that the Jerusalem Talmud almost never mentions the sudra or other coverings:

בניגוד לתלמיד הבבלי אין בתלמוד הירושלמי כל התייחסות לכיסוי הראש לגברים…. הדבר מרמז כי בארץ ישראל לא יהיה המנהג מקובל אפילו בקרב תלמידי חכמים אדוקים…
Zimmer, Eric. Olam k-Minhago Noheg. The Zalman Shachar Center Jerusalem, (Heb.) Israel 1996, pg 18 – 19.

This suggests that the sudra was introduced into Babylonian Judaism from their external cultural surroundings. Perhaps the sudra, which was only worn by rabbinic sages, resembled the hat of the Zoroastrian magi.

This headdress wrapped the head and upper torso (See reliefs and seals here: http://www.livius.org/articles/concept/magians/ ). This explanation may resolve why of all the morning blessings only two, the headdress and belt blessings, mention “Yisroel”. The magi had unique ritual clothing, including belt (kustig), shirt (sudre), and hat. Because rabbinic sages had a parallel similar headdress, the blessing was composed in a way to set the reciter apart from Zoroastrian priests. Many values were borrowed from the magi by the Jews. See https://www.academia.edu/251394/Studying_With_a_Magus_Like_Giving_a_Tongue_to_a_Wolf that Jews interacted and may have been heavily influenced by the Zoroastrian magi. The magi would utter prayers as they dressed themselves with their kustig:

Due to its religious roles, not only must the cord be worn every day during the devotee’s lifetime, it needs to be ritually untied and retied with specific prayers after the pādyāb purificatory ablution—a ceremony called the pādyāb-kusti which involves “making new the holy cord” (Pers. košti nav kardan) or “tying the holy cord” (Guj. kustī bastan) (Choksy, 1989, pp. 55-61; Figure 3). … (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kustig )

The idea to make a blessing when girdling may have been borrowed from the magi directly and the need to mention “Yisroel” in אוזר ישראל בתפארה is clear.  עוטה ישראל בתפארה may have similar origins.

Zoroastrian beliefs in the mystical powers of the kustig belt may have influenced rabbinic understanding of the power of tzitzit in the Talmud Bavli. See https://www.academia.edu/1868922/_Redesigning_Tzitzit_in_the_Babylonian_Talmud_in_Light_of_Literary_Depictions_of_the_Zoroastrian_Kust%C4%ABg_ . Similarly, the Talmud says of the sudra – סודרא סוד ה’ ליראיו – “[the phonetics of the word ‘sudra’ hint at the verse:] “the secret of the Lord is known to those who fear him” (the ‘sudra’ being the scholar’s apparel)”. The sudra seems to have supernatural spiritual associations like the Zoroastrian ritual garments. However, much of this is speculation.
[2] שבולי הלקט השלם סימן ד; מהדורת מירסקי, עמ’ 137 ובהקצר סי’ א

[3] In the 11th century, R’ Yitchak Al-fasi omitted the headdress blessing altogether from his Halachot. This omission has been noted by R. Elazar Moshe Horowitz (Haggahot Rabbi Elazar Moshe Horowitz, 19th century Pinsk) and others. While Horowitz suggested that R. Al-fasi skipped this blessing because the sudra was only worn by the sages and therefore not relevant for common people, in light of the Gaonic responsa preserved in Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ, it is reasonable to assume the omission was because the Talmud’s sudra had been replaced by the turban, rendering the ancient blessing no longer applicable. It is further noteworthy that we have internal evidence that R. Al-fasi’s readers wore turbans from his teacher, R. Chananel (990 – 1053):

ויש אומרים כומתא כמו כאן דומה לגביע… (פירוש רבינו חננאל לשבת דף קמז ע”א)

From the context of R. Chananel’s comment it is clear that the turban (גביע) was an item distinct from the sudra to R. Chananel’s understanding.
[4] The author of Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ who cited the responsum of the Gaonim was also unaware of an alternate text. One manuscript of Siddur Amram Gaon omits the blessing.

[5] http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20685&st=&pgnum=148

[6] Piskei R’ Isiah Trani the Elder Brachot 60b

כי עטף גלימה אומר בא”י אמ”ה אקב”ו להתעטף ביצית, כי פריס סודריה או’ ברוך עוטה ישר’ בתפארה

[7] Meiri on Brachot 60b:כשמתעטף אומר: אשר קדשנו וכו’ להתעטף בציצית . כשפורס סודר על ראשו אומר: עוטה ישראל בתפארה.

[8] The commentaries of Rashi and Rashbam on Pesachim 111b also say עוטר. However, it is possible that their commentaries originally read עוטה and were amended to fit the more common and popular ‘crowns’ version of the late Middle Ages. Abraham ben Nathan Ha-Yarhi’s (Lunel, 12th century) Sefer Ha-Manhig also has עוטר: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14615&st=&pgnum=13http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=44478&st=&pgnum=18
and http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=33776&st=&pgnum=17 .

[9] The blessing is missing from this manuscript as well- Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Heb. 671, Brachot 60, 15th century Eastern Byzantine: http://jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/talmud/bavly/showbav1.asp?mishnanum=2&pereknum=062&masecet=01&mnusriptnum=1976&p=1&masecetindex=1&perekindex=59&numamud=2&manuscriptindex=2&k

[10] David Nicolle. Sassanian Armies: The Iranian Empire Early 3rd To Mid-7th Centuries AD, Montvert Publications. 1996. pg. 63 Box 32C.

See also Plate Caption B3 on pg. 41: ” 3rd century AD -The turban was also a distinctly eastern feature at this time.”

Also pg. 47, 20C:

Rock relief carving Sassanian late 3rd century AD.  Here a group of Arab tribute-bearers…. Their headclothes appear to be small early versions of the typical modern Arab kufiya headclothe held in place by an aqal ring. Such headclothes are however, extremely rare in medieval Arab-Islamic art. Their modern name of kufiya reflects their origin in, or association with, the city of Kufa in Iraq.

3rd century Dura-Europos and Aleppo (Syrian cities) limestone and basalt relief carvings show pre-Islamic Arabs with no head covering (pg. 46, 20A and 20B). Stone reliefs from Yemen from pre-Islamic centuries show no turbans (pg. 48, Box 21). 6th century Egyptian Coptic stone relief and ivory situla carvings depict Arabian warriors and Bedouin nomads with no turbans (pg. 50, Box 23).

See also pg. 43 F2 and Plate G3.

[11] Hadith which speak of Muhammad wearing a turban are listed here: http://ibnfarooq.tripod.com/Sunnaclothes.htm#Imaama . Nearly all of the hadith collections cited date to no earlier than the ninth century, 200 years after the passing of the prophet.

[12] Talmidei Rabbenu Yona (Brachot Al-fasi pg. 14b). First Encyclopaedia of Islam: 1913-1936, Volume 3, pg. 886:

‘Turban’ – … in earlier times unbelievers were only to wear turbans of another colour or with some distinguishing mark…. In Egypt and Syria in the eighth century AH (= 14th century CE) Christians wore blue, Jews yellow… turbans…

This is further apparent in the words of Abudirham (note 16-17).

[13] http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/amama-or-ammama-arabic-emama-the-turban

[14] http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/crown-iii CROWN iii. ‘On monuments from the Islamic conquest to the Mongol invasion’.

[15] מנהגים ר”א ב”ר שאול  page 141. The citation can be found in Otzar Chochma http://www.otzar.org/wotzar/Book.aspx?101605& .

[16] פרק דין מאה ברכות ספר אבודרהם

[17] ספר אבודרהם פרק ברכות השחר

[18] Talmidei Rabbenu Yona (Brachot pp. of Al-fasi 14b) wrote of Jews of Spain who wore turbans the entire day. R’ Yonah Gerondi’s (d. 1264) students perhaps were speaking of Arabized Jews who dressed in the style of Islamic culture even within Christian Spain like the Mozarabs.

[19] The siddur gives an extensive description of the morning actions and their accompanying blessings but makes no mention of a blessing on one’s hat or head-covering.

[20] The blessing does appear in Deblinski’s Ra’avyah Talmud Brachot commentary, but not in the Mekitze Nirdamim edition of Ra’avyah.

[21] Pri Chodosh Orach Chayim 46:1.

[22] Halachot Gedolot. ed. A. Hildsheimer pg. 77.

[23] See Arab-Sassanian Coin, Sijistān, Minted in 708 CE. http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Coins/drachm22.html . Arab-Sassanian Fals From Veh-az-Āmid-Kavād (Arrajān), 702-703 CE: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Coins/fals3.html . Arab-Sassanian Coin of The Governor ʿAmr Ibn Laqīt, Kirmān, 702 CE: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Coins/drachm18.html . More here: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Coins/

It is in the eleventh century, that the Saljuq sultan Ṭoḡrel Beg (1038-63) is portrayed on a gold medallion wearing an elaborate, tulip-shaped turban (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/crown-iii).

[24] Hadith which speak of Muhammad wearing a turban are listed here: http://ibnfarooq.tripod.com/Sunnaclothes.htm#Imaama . The hadith collections cited therein date to no earlier than the ninth century, 200 years after the passing of the prophet.

[25] Esposito, John L. Islam: The Straight Path. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press 1998, pg. 81.
Though many scholars take exception to Schact’s views (see for example Fazlur Rahman, “Sunna and Hadith”, Islamic Studies 1 [June:1962]) the veracity of claims of turbans being overly common in the 7th and 8th centuries is called into question.

[26] Naftali Vieder.  התגבשות נוסח התפילה במזרח ובמעריבVolume II (1998), pgs. 617.

[27] Siddur Rabbenu Shelomo ben Nathan of Sijilmasa, ed. S. Hagi Jerusalem, 1995, pg. 8.

[28] http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=19321&st=&pgnum=27

[29] http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=21295&st=&pgnum=253

[30] See Rosh Moed Kattan 3:3 and a similar view in Otzar Gaonim Brachot Lewin.