The land of Euphrates and Tigris which was once known to the world as the center of knowledge and culture is today recognized as a land of warfare and bloodshed. It is also true that it remained under the domination of many invaders like Anatolian, Babylonians and Assyrians etc in the ancient history. During that period the region went through tremendous human development and made notable cultural progress. In 7th century AD, this territory was occupied by Islamic Arabs and it was become the prime center of the Muslim caliphate. The descending Abbasid caliphate established Baghdad as their capital city and they established it as the preeminent downtown of education and the greatest ancestry of the Islamic empire.
The same was ruined by the Mongols in the thirteenth century and then this land experienced a series of invasions and extermination of its people in the history. Ottomans, Mamluks and British took control of this country respectively in the later periods of history when finally it got freedom from the Great Britain in 1932. A pre-coup government of the Hashemite monarchy was established which was ultimately ended in 1958 by military adventurers and then it remained under different dictatorships. In 2003, the United States-organized coalition invaded it again and after the US withdrawal of its troops in 2011, it is again suffering from different insurgencies till present.
Yes, this is Iraq, officially known as the Republic of Iraq which is an Arab country located in the western Asia. A country of more than 32 million people having diverse ethnicities and religious followings is today mainly known for Arab and Kurd communities in the lovely planet. The predeceasing paragraph elaborates clearly that Iraq was once the hub of the oldest Mesopotamian culture and Islamic civilization and even today, it is a country of a wide and varied heritage. Without going into further details, let’s keep our main focus upon the subject i-e, the traditional dress of Iraq & Kurdistan which is an offshoot of the ancient acculturation.
Many Iraqi men and women have started to adopt the clothing culture similar to America in present times. Iraqi men specially can be commonly seen in pants, shirts and also in T-shirts with jeans. But still if you go to the rural or country-side areas of Iraq, you’ll see Iraqi men wearing a big turban on their heads along with long tunic-shaped traditional thobe on their body. Iraqi women also traditionally wear loose-fitting garments with covering of their heads with scarves and body with a big cloak known as abaya. In different parts of Iraqi territory, the Iraqis wear traditional dresses in accordance with their own distinctiveness.
Thobe which may also be spelled as Thawb is actually an ankle length garment usually with long sleeves in a tunic shape. During summer, white thobes usually made with cotton are commonly seen and during winter, the Iraqi men prefer to wear thobes usually in bright colors and made with wool. Sometimes this garment is known as dishdasha and it is also very useful to protect the skin from harsh sun-rays. A pair of loose trousers is worn under the dishdasha.
Iraqi men as mentioned earlier cover their heads normally with a diagonally folded square of cloth which is usually made with cotton and it is held around the head to be draped thoroughly. It is known as Kaffiyeh or Kufiyeh which sometimes also comes in linen, wool, or silk, either plain or patterned. Sometimes it is also supported by Igal or Agal which is necessary to keep the whole thing in place. Igal may be black cord or worn doubled.
Some wealthy Iraqis belonging to the rural community, especially the Bedouin men also wear a ceremonial dress which is woven with thin camel hair and it is known as Bisht. This dress is normally decorated with thread embroidery around the neck and usually on the front downwards. In the windy winters, Iraqi rural men also wear a typical woolen coat with a fleece lining which is known as farwa. Similarly in some regions, a small decorated jacket which is called damir is also popular which is usually made with velvet. In the footwear, leather sandals and boots are in common use of Iraqi men.
Iraqi women cover their bodies with Abayah which is a long black cloak that is worn as outerwear over a dress or trousers. Nowadays it comes in different styles and adorned with embellished patterns. Scarf is also generally used by the Iraqi women to cover their heads.
It is pertinent to mention here about Bedouin women of Iraq who use a head cloth called as Shambar which is worn over the head and around the neck tied by a decorative headband. Bedouin women also use Sash (belt) to be wrapped around the waist with the end folded into the wraps. For footwear, the traditional items include leather sandals and leather slippers.
Today, Abaya which is prepared with fine fabrics and comes in tremendous patterns has become a matter of honour and prestige for the Iraqi women. Synthetic fabrics are also being used for Abaya. Two important scarves which are also commonly in use of Iraqi women these days are; the asha which covers the hair, and the futa which covers the mouth and chin.
Traditional dresses for women in Iraq are made with cotton in summer and flannel in winter. The casual dresses worn during domestic jobs are not necessarily to be embroidered or decorated. In winter women also wear knitted sweaters or jackets to protect themselves from cold. Baggy trousers or sirwal which are bedecked with embroidery are worn underneath by women.When it comes to formal dress for women in Iraq, one dress which is known as Hashmiyah is very popular. This dress is normally adorned around the neck, around the waist with metal threads and sometimes with rhinestones as well. This dress is also a part of traditional dancing costumes in Iraq these days as the dancers usually wear it without scarves with free hair.
Unlike Iraqis, the people of Kurdistan have still continued their distinctive custom to wear the traditional dresses generally. Iraqi Kurdistan comprises of Northern parts of Iraq which is largely a mountainous zone. The mountainous nature of Iraqi Kurdistan has made a characteristic impact on the clothing behaviors of Iraqi Kurds. Iraqi Kurdistan has a diverse religious population. The dominant religion is Islam, adhered to by the majority of its inhabitants.
The Kurdish culture is a legacy from the various ancient peoples who shaped modern Kurds and their society, but primarily Iranian. Among their neighbors, the Kurdish culture is closest to Persian culture.
Traditional dress for men in Iraqi Kurdistan includes long baggy trousers or shalwar that fit tightly at the ankle, a short tight jacket over a striped silk shirt and a cummerbund of print or striped cloth wrapped around and around the waist. Some Kurd men also used embroidered jackets as their over garment as well. Kaffiyah is also in common use of the Kurd men and they use it with a long string-like tassel.
Traditional dress for Kurd women is very decorative, bright, voluminous and colorful which is normally bedecked with sequins, glass beads, coins and stone beads. Almost every accessory in the Kurd woman’s garment is embellished with fancy materials. Brilliantly adorned metal belts are also favorite among Kurdish women especially in the formal attires. The under dress and trousers are made of a plain satin fabric usually matching the colour of the gown.
The traditional Kurdish hat for women is usually black velveteen ornamented with traditional amber and turquoise beads with gold or silver charms. Traditional Kurdish women’s outfit includes either a vest or long-sleeved jacket or long overcoat worn over a gown.
Most Kurdish women and men have a large collection of Kurdish dresses and are always on the lookout for new designs and fabric. They usually buy the fabrics of their choice and then have it tailors as such there are tailors who specialize in making Kurdish clothes.
Traditional dress of Iraq & Kurdistan which is an offshoot of the ancient acculturation, presently in its pure form has become a thing of the glorious past and history of this great nation. In the youth, you’ll see a blend of the western clothing and traditional wear, however this confusion rather fusion makes the appearance of Iraqis more charming and graceful.
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