Melaya Leff (Egypt)

This is a three part clip featuring dancers performing with a wrap known in Egypt as a melaya leff. The melaya itself is made of black fabric, usually reaching from the head down to the floor. Egyptian ladies once used the melaya leff to cover themselves modestly when they went outside the home. They wore their regular clothes underneath the melaya leff. The melaya leff used for performances has sequins or pailettes sewn on to it while the regular daywear version does not. The melaya leff was most popular up to the 1950s and is often worn in old time Egyptian movies. It can still be seen occasionally today being worn by older women in some more rural or conservative parts of Egypt. Dancers use the melaya leff as part of a ‘character piece’. Its become a prop usually combined with a floral ruffled dress, headscarf with pom poms, burqa and ship-ship.
In this clip we have:
(1) Naima Akef and singer Mohammad Abdel Mottaleb. This is part of a longer scene and in this melaya section Naima Akef is wearing ship-ship on her feet, these are backless mules or slip ons with a high heel. The word for the footwear is also written as shep-shep, it all depends on your Arabic accent 🙂
(2) A chorus line of melaya clad dancers.
(3) Fouad el Mohandes and Shweikar in the 1968 Egyptian film ‘Mutarada Gharamia’ (‘Chasing Passion’ مطاردة غرامية) which was based on the successful stage play ‘Boeing, Boeing’. Fouad el Mohandes and Shweikar were married in real life at the time this film was made.

Mervat Amin (1972) ميرفت أمين


The two dancers in this clip are actress Mervat Amin and comedian Fuad al Mohandes (1924-2006). The scene is from the Egyptian comedy ‘The Return of the Most Dangerous Man in the World’ (Awdat Akhtar Ragol f’il Aalam عودة أخطر رجل فى العالم). In this film Fuad al Mohandes reprises the dual roles of Zaki the insurance company rep and international criminal mastermind Mr X.  These roles were first seen in the 1967 film ‘The Most Dangerous Man in the World starring al Mohandes and his then wife Shweiker.
This time there is a maharajah in town and Zaki is sent to convince the maharajah that he should insure his jewellery. Meanwhile Mr X is planning on stealing the gems. Also starring in the film were Samir Sabri, Salah Nazmi and Wafik Fahmy who’s the maharajah and is wearing the turban in this scene. The blonde woman who faints is a little known actress called Birgitte who only made a couple of films.

Trivia: 1) Mervat Amin’s second husband (she’s had four) was guitarist Omar Khorshid.
2) Filming of this movie was completed in 1972 but it wasn’t released until the following year.