Girls at the National Dress Festival, Uzbekistan, representing Tashkent and Fergana. Photo source
I've already written about ethnic jewelry of the republics of Central Asia and today's post is about their traditional costume.
Traditional costume in Central Asia is still very much alive and worn in everyday life, partly because it is the most practical wear for this region and partly because it fosters national pride.
The costume worn by men and women has same basic structure and at the same time greatly varies in embelishment, colour and weave of cloth. The three basic pieces are: a tunic, trousers and a variety of coats. Social status and ethnic origin are reflected in the materials from which the basic garments are made. Man's tunic usually comes just below the waist, women wear a longer version that reaches to mid-calf or to the ankle. The colour, pattern and decoration varies from group to group.
Emir of Bukhara, 1905. Library of Congress
Kazakh couple, 1870-86. Library of Congress
Kyrgyz women and men, 1865-1872. World Digital Library
Trousers worn with the tunic are usually of a loose type, very large at the top and tightened on a string and narrowing down at the knees , mid-calf, or at the ankles. The upper part of the trousers is usually made of a plain-woven undecorated fabric and the bottoms of a different, more expensive and decorated material because only the bottom portions are seen. Very practical.The third basic article of the Central Asian costume, the coat, comes in different types. It can be made of different fabric, have sleeves of varying lengths, and be worn left open or tied with a belt. There are two major kinds of coats, the chapan and the khalat. The chapan is a loose coat of padded and quilted cotton. The khalat is a lightweight robe made of cotton, silk or a mixture of the two. There are regional variations in the cut of this garment but, essentially, khalats have wide sleeves and are bordered with patterned-silk edging tape stitched onto the coat material.
Woman's coat with a richly decorated lining. Bukhara, Uzbekistan, late 19th century. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Turkmen man's khalat, mid.20th century. Gallery of Textiles & Costume
Turkmen family, early 20th century. Photo source
Tajik girls, photo courtesy Marusia
Uzbek woman wearing a khalat in traditional pattern
The skull cap is a head-covering item that is quite popular in Central Asia as well. It can be worn on its own, beneath bigger hats or serve as a base for wrapping turbans and arranging rumols. They are usually richly embroidered and can be conic, four-sided, round, and cupola-shaped.
Girls at the National Dress Festival, Uzbekistan, representing Bukhara and Samarkand. Photo source
Girls at the National Dress Festival, Uzbekistan. Photo source
Woman in paranja, Samarkand, 1905. World Digital Library
Veils were once a part of traditional woman's costume too but are not worn in the most regions of Central Asia nowadays. They are divided into two groups: those that cover the face and those that cover both the head and the body, so called paranjas. The paranja-type head-covering seems to be a fairly recent innovation. According to the sources paranjas do not appear at all in medieval miniature paintings, and are not mentioned in written sources until the 18th century.
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