Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: Jordan

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Jordan

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.


Irbid Dress

With its loose fitting design and cool cotton fabric, this traditional dress from the town of Irbid shows a clear Bedouin influence (Jordan is 80% desert). The thin black veil wrapped around the head is held in place by a large headband called an asbeh. This one, in silver brocaded silk, was imported from Syria, which for centuries was famous for its silk-weaving industry. The headdress underneath the asbeh is made of silver coins, glass beads and silver chains that extend over the shoulders.
The embroidery on the dress is mainly purl stitch. The technique is common to the nomadic Bedouins of the area that is now southern Syria and northern Palestine- a reminder of their common origins.
Throughout much of the 20th century, it was fashionable to decorate the brides' face with tattoos, but that custom has largely dies out. Intricate designs in henna are still often applied to the face, hands and feet, a tradition that persists in many other Arab countries as well.

Ma'an Costume

Handmade of silk dyed with natural pigments, this dress dates from about 1930 and comes from Ma'an, an ancient city in southern Jordan. An important stop on the Hejaz railroad, Ma'an was a meeting place for pilgrims on their way to Makkah and Madinah. The Ma'an costume was influenced by these travelers, who would bring valuable items- silk from Syria, linen from Turkey, cotton from Palestine- to sell at the Ma'an market.
The style that incorporated these colorful fabrics became known as thoub harir (silk dress). Very wide and long, it had sleeves that almost touched the ground. The fabrics were all hand-woven Syrian silk and Ikats, whose threads are tie-dyed prior to weaving.
The thoub harir was gathered at the waist by a handwoven fringed belt; women could pull the long dress over the belt so that it formed an upper layer, then knot the belt in the fron tof the dress so the fringe would show. The thoub was often worn with a coat made of Ikat silk; it could be pulled over the head like a hood or draped over the shoulders.
Both the thoub and the coat were typically yellow, orange and red; red or green triangular panels were inserted into the sides of the thoub to give it more width. the costume was crowned with an elaborate headdress consisting of a small skullcap embroidered with cross-stitching and an irjeh was covered with a black and red silk shawl that was wrapped around the bride's head, the end trailing down her back. Jewelry included a bead necklace with Ottoman coins that was worn sideways under one arm. Today Jordanians war such costumes only rarely.

Brides of the Arab World: Algeria

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Algeria

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.


Constantine Dress

Also called a jebba, this style of long, collarless velvet gown has been worn throughout eastern Algeria sine the 19th century. Much of its charm derives from the medjbood embroidery, which uses delicate gold thread to create arabesques and patterns inspired by local flora and fauna. Also popular is fetia embroidery, executed with a heavier gold thread. Dresses are usually in blue, green or deep red, and accessorized with fine gold jewelry and a belt made of gold coins.
Originally called a gandourat ksantina, this garment later became known as a after the Fergani family, the precursors of haute couture in Constantine. Women in all regions of eastern Algeria still wear a jebba fergani on their wedding day; often, these expensive dresses become heirlooms passed down from mother to daughter.

Kabyle Dress

Worn by Berber women, this dress is made of silk printed with designs that are the same color as the fabric. It is decorated with multicolored rickrack, whose patterns vary from on Kabyle region to another. Tied around the dress is an apron, or fotta, considered the symbol of the Kabyle woman. The belt is made of colorful braided strands of wool, with pompons at each end. Dating back to the 19th century, this style was originally fashioned in wool; in the second half of the 20th century, silk, satin and brightly hued rickrack were introduced. Contemporary brides, especially those who can afford multiple outfits, often include such regional costumes among their wedding dresses (celebrations usually last for several days), accessorizing them with traditional Berber jewelry. Guests also sometimes wear this traditional style to weddings.

Brides of the Arab World: Morocco and North Africa

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Morocco and North Africa

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.


Fez or Tetouan Wedding Caftan

Featuring hand-woven raw silk in two shades of gold, this opulent caftan was made in either Fez or Tetouan around 1920. The silk embroidery, notable for its unusually fine execution, is typical of Tetouan, the only area in Morocco where caftans were crafted by women. For weddings, these garments were worn with a simple white under dress, a belt, a headdress and lavish jewelry. Ornate caftans such as this one were donned by both Jews and Muslims on special occasions, but only Muslims wore them for weddings; the Jews of Tetouan wore an outfit called a keswah kbirah (the big outfit), which consisted of a skirt, west and jacket.

ntae Caftan

In the 19th century, caftans were embroidered only on the tip and were buttoned to the waist; early 20th century models such as this one have richer embellishments and buttons that extend to the hem. The embroidery on this red-velvet garment is emblematic of Fez, where artisans often used 22-carat gold thread (antae is a type of gold thread embroidery). The motifs augured well for the newlyweds: birds were thought to bring good luck, and flowers symbolized joy and happiness. Such elaborate caftans took a very long time to make and were accessible only to wealthy brides, who would wear them for other special occasions after the wedding.

North Africa

Silver-embroidered Wedding Costume

This early 20th century bridal costume was likely worn in the coastal areas of what are now Algeria and Tunisia. It consists of several layers and pieces: a diaphanous white shirt and voluminous Ottoman-style pantaloons under a silver embroidered and sequined top, with a large silk belt tied at the waist. The headdress is a small sequined cap covered by a large silver silk scarf that envelopes the entire outfit. The bride would wear this ensemble while seated on large cushions on a platform; relatives and guests would approach to embrace her and offer gifts of jewelry or money. It was one of a number of outfits designed for celebrations that continued for several days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: United Arab Emirates and Bahrain

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- United Arab Emirates and Bahrain

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.

United Arab Emirates

Jillabeeya, Sirwal, Shalia and Burqua

Brides throughout the area now known as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) traditionally wore silk or cotton outfits similar to this one. It consists of a floor-length dress (jillabeeya), trousers that are fitted at the ankles (sirwal), a headscarf (shalia) and a black mask that covers the eyebrows, nose and mouth (burqa). As was often the case in the Arab world, there was not 'wedding dress' as such; instead, a bride would wear the finest dress in the local style. What distinguished her were the henna designs on her hands and feet, her special makeup and hairstyle, and the considerable amount of gold jewelry she wore. Today's UAE brides wear Western-style white gowns, but henna rituals remain a popular custom.


Thoub al-Nashl and Darra'ah

Throughout the Arabian Peninsula, people have adopted loose, layered clothing as a means of conserving body moisture and protecting themselves from the sun. The thoub al-nashl, considered a staple of the Bahraini woman's wardrobe, is a semi-transparent overdress, made from fabrics such as chiffon or silk and lavishly decorated with gold or silver thread (reflecting an Indian influence), or silk embroidery and sequins. It is worn over the darra'ah. A distinctive feature is the huge sleeves, which can be draped over the head like a veil. Embroidery motifs are inspired by the Bahraini environment- desert, sun and palm trees.
Women have traditionally worn these costumes to celebrations such as weddings, Eid and birthday parties, and to festivities held when boats returned from a long pearl-diving expeditions. Brides also wear thoubs, choosing the highest quality silks and vivid colors such as red, green or violet, which beautifully complement the metallic threads. They are the most elaborately embroidered garments a woman will ever own, and many families today hang the bride's thoub al-nashl from the ceiling, where it can be admired by all and herald happiness and prosperity.
This emerald green wedding costume dates from 1982, but Bahrainis have worn a similar style for more than a century. It is made of Indian chiffon; the gold and silver embroidery represent the epitome of that craft.

Brides of the Arab World: Kuwait and Qatar

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Kuwait and Qatar

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.

Kuwaiti Darra’ah and Thoub
This traditional Kuwaiti wedding outfit is made of silk embroidered with gold thread. It is similar to those worn throughout the Gulf region, where wedding ensembles typically consist of a darr’ah (dress) , thoub (overdress) and abayah (cloak). These outfits are accessorized with gold jewelry such as a hama (head accessory) a kaff (bracelet connected to five rigs), necklaces, a belt, bangles, bracelets and ankle bracelets.
Unlike those found in other Gulf States, the Kuwaiti thoub has an oval, not round, opening for the head. Brides originally wore black thoubs with embroidery around the neckline; in later years, influences from neighboring cultures led to the appearance of vibrant greens and reds embellished with rich patterns of needlework. The wealthiest families used gold thread and sometimes even attached gold coins to the dress.
Since Kuwaiti independence in 1961, brides have increasingly opted for white wedding gowns common in the West. Recently, however, they have begun reintegrating traditional costumes into their festivities, wearing the thoub and darra’ah for one part of the ceremony and the white dress for another.Qatar

Thoub al-Nashl, Darra’ah and Serwal

Both of these outfits- one off white, the other in red- consist of an Indian-silk trouser (serwal) and dress (darra’ah) worn under a baggy chiffon party dress (thoub al-nashl). All pieces are embroidered with gold thread, and the jewelry includes gold headpieces, necklaces and belts. Made in the second half of the 20th century, these are urban dresses from Doha, the capital of Qatar. The style dates from the early 20th century.
Such rich fabrics and valuable jewelry were accessible to only the wealthiest of women; those with more modest means wore similar styles made of less precious materials. After the wedding, the bride would don the dress for special occasions. This costume is still worn, although by relatives or close friends of the bride and not the bride herself. Women today tend to update the outfit, accessorizing it with contemporary jewelry.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: Yemen

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Yemen

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.

Bayt al-Fakih and Bajil Dress

Typical of a style popular in the towns of Bayt al-Fakih and Bajil, this garment is an excellent example of dresses worn since the early 1900s for weddings and other special occasions. It boasts a striking combination of brightly colored needlework and embroidery set against a dark cotton background; the fabric and embellishments are hand-dyed with natural pigments, including indigo.
The symmetry of the design required considerable skill. The bodice, shoulders, cuffs and upper sides of the dress are decorated with impressive hammered and braided silver work. Such pieces are often made separately then applied to a dress before it is sewn together. When the fabric of the rest of the dress wears out, these heavily embroidered sections are removed and sewn onto a new dress. The fitted silhouette is typical of Yemeni dresses past and present.

Jebal Heraz Indigo Dress

This wedding dress, made of pounded indigo-dyed cotton embroidered with gilded silver, was worn by a bride in Jebal Heraz, a mountainous area west of Sana'a. In its heyday, indigo was an enormous cash-crop for Yemen, even more than coffee at its peak. The Yemenis employed a special technique that involved pounding the cloth with heavy wooden paddles to give it a high gloss. The red triangles used throughout this dress symbolize fertility (the triangle) and protection from bleeding (the color red). The red-striped fabric that lines the front slit of the dress was imported from India. The pantaloons feature couched silver-thread embroidery and are from the same area as the dress. The silver couching on this 100 year old dress was badly frayed but was painstakingly mended prior to this exhibition by Grazia Zalfa, a talented seamstress with the Bead Society of Greater Washington.
Wadi Duan Dress

Made approximately 80 years ago, this bridal dress is from Wadi Duan, in the heart of the Hadramaut province in southeastern Yemen. The black and red cotton/silk fabric wsa woven in Syria and the green and red silk panels are of Indian origin. The gilded silver couched embroidery is Hadami and portrays vegetation and symbols important to its Bedouin wearers. The three pound silver wedding headpiece is also typical of the area; the cylinders were believed to offer amuletic protection, and the clanging bells were intended to both attract attention and frighten away evil spirits.

Sana'a Dress

Dating back to the early 1900s, this wedding dress reflects styles worn by affluent women in the capital city of Sana'a and nearby provinces. Simple caftans made of silver or gold brocade, they had sleeves that extended some 10 inches beyond the fingertips, creating a regal and graceful effect. The impressive headpiece consisted of matching brocade draped over a supporting structure and festooned with silver and coral jewelry. The bride also wore a garland of flowers, kathy and rayhan (scented herbs).
The elaborate jewelry was the most important part of the ensemble. Indeed it was often the dowry given to the bride by the groom and his family before the wedding ceremony. Silver was long the most prized metal and was often combined with coral, amber and gemstones. Yemen's silver mines made such jewelry widely affordable, and it was worn on all festive occasions. In the early 1900s, gold became the preferred choice for wedding jewelry, but in recent years, silver has regained its popularity.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: Iraq and Saudi Arabia

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Iraq & Saudi Arabia

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.


Mosul Dress
(dress on the left in foreground)
In 1904, a Catholic Iraqi from the city of Mosul created this dress for her own wedding. She chose a style typical of Ottoman-era fashion, one that has since disappeared. The gown is made predominantly of a handmade, gossamer-like silk called jeld al-malayka (angel skin), now produced only very rarely. It is pleated in several areas with decorative lace known as dantel (from the French dentelle) and is so delicate that the bride spent almost a full day ironing it. Sh wore the dress with gold accessories, as Christians in Mosul traditionally preferred gold to gemstones for personal adornment.

Saudi Arabia

Hijazi Dress

The Hijaz region along the Red Seais home to the oldest cosmopolitan centers of Saudi Arabia. Traders and pilgrims passed through this area (which includeMakkah and Madinah) for centuries, and contact with so many cultures resulted in remarkably beautiful local costumes that are more delicate than those found elsewhere in the Kingdom. The spectacular zibun worn by Hijazi brides is unlike any other Arabian garment. A high-necked, fitted gown, it has elbow-length sleeves and buttons down the front. A large square of fine muslin, sprinkled with small gold flowers, covers the head and flows over the gown down to the floor. The outfit is completed by matching serwal (pantaloons) and a diaphanous thoub (over dress). The particular dress, made of chiffon, silk and voile, dates from the late 1970s. It replicates a style worn for more than 150 years in this region.

Brides of the Arab World: Syria

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World exhibition

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.


Yelek from Qal'at Sam'an (St. Simon)

This woman's coat is from Qal'at Sam'an, a village northwest of Aleppo, near the Turkish border. The indigo-dyed fabric and the silk satin applique were both produced in Aleppo, then embroidered by women in Qal'at Sam'an. Inspired by the natural surroundings, the motifs included stylized cypresses and conifers.
Yelek is a Turkish word that refers to a long, fitted coat. The full-length sleeves are also fitted. The neckline extends to the waist, and the skirt is slit on each side to reveal the tie-dyed dress beneath. The dyeing technique, called plangi, allowed women to create complex and unique designs. It was first used on hand-woven silk, then on cotton-silk blends, then on cotton. Accessories included a heavy gold-plated silver belt and a headdress woven from pure silk. This yelek was made in the early 1800s, the dress dates from about a century later.

Sarma Robe from Damascus/Aleppo

Worn primarily by upper-class women in Aleppo and Damascus, this style of richly embroidered cotton-velvet dress exhibits both European and Ottoman influences. while most of the exquisite embroidery found in traditional Syrian wedding costumes was designed and produced by the brides themselves, these costumes were embellished by professional women in Hama. They used a standard pattern and a technique called sarma, which involved attaching cardboard shapes wrapped with silver and gold thread to the velvet fabric.
The headdress is decorated with a silver-thread embroidery called tatric which was produced in Baalbek (present day Lebanon) and popular in Damascus and Aleppo. This style of dress and headdress were worn from about 1850 until the early 1900s; this particular dress dates from the late 1800s.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: Palestine

Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World-- Palestine

All of these pictures were taken at the Kennedy Center during the Arabesque Festival and the text is from the exhibit.


Asdud Dress
With its lightweight fabric and V-cut neckline, the Asdud costume was well suited to the warm Mediterranean climate of this coastal town. This particular dress was hand-woven in the 1930s in nearby Mejdel, once famous for its narrow linen edged with red or turqoise stripes. Similar fabric has been excavated from sites dating back to the 2nd century, and the embroidery patterns (cypress trees, combs) are just as ancient. The headdress or saffeh resembles that woen in other coastal areas; decorated with coins, it is wrapped around the bride's braided hair and covered with a large embroidered headscarf. Since the 1948 war, the former residents of Asdud have lived in refugee camps in nearby Gaza. Asdud is now the Israeli town of Ashdod and its traditional embroidery has almost disappeared, although Palestinian workshops in Lebanon and Jordan do still re-create these classic patterns on shawls, jackets and bags.

El Khalil Dress

The El Khalil wedding dress is famous for its winged sleeves and heavy embroidery, with silk cross-stitch covering most of the linen. The bride may also wear a coin-covered vest called a miklab. The headdress, richly decorated with coins and precious stones, sits atop a simple cap. Reserved exclusively for weddings, it is shared by all brides from the same clan. A large embroidered linen scarf called a ghudfeh is draped over the headdress; after the bride is presented wo the wedding guests, the scarf is removed to reveal her complete costume. Embroidery motifs on this dress, made in the 1940's, include "acanthus leaves with cup" khemet-el-pasha (the tent of the pasha) and feathers.

Jerusalem Dress

Made in the 1940s, this wedding dress from the village of Ein Karem reveals the strong influence Bethlehem exerted on the embroidery in villages around Jerusalem in the early 20th century. The primary fabric is imported European velvet, and the chest piece, side panels and sleeves are silk embroidered with couching. Called talhami or tahriri, this needlework was usually done by professional women embroiderers in the towns of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahur. And as in Bethlehem, a short-sleeved embroidered jacket (taqsireh) was worn over the long-sleeved dress, creating a lovely shirred effect. The scarf covering the headdress was trimmed with locally made lace, a feature unique to Jerusalem costumes.
This is but one of the eight different Jerusalem styles; each boasts different fabrics and colors, but all feature similar embroidered panels. The former residents of Ein Karem are now refugees (the village has become a popular Israeli tourist destination). but Palestinian embroidery workshops still reproduce the Ein Karem dress as well as the taqsireh which many women now wear as an elegant jacket.
Ramallah Dress
(Left side in photo below)
One of the most famous Palestinian costumes, the Ramallah bridal outfit is said to have originated in the 5th century. This one was made in the 1920s of hand woven linen embroidered with silk thread in a cross stitch pattern. It features the traditional squarechest piece adorned with age-old motifs such as flowers, palm trunks, birds and the S- shaped alak or leeches (used for medicinal purposes, they represent good health and longevity). Its wuqa headdress is decorated with Ottoman coins and cross stitch embroidery.
Draped over the headdress is a matching scarf embroidered with crosses, a reminder that Ramallah was a predominantly Christian town in the 1920s. During the 1930s, silk scarves imported form the Far East became popular, but today the traditional costume is worn without a scarf. On special occasions, Palestinian women intent on preserving their heritage wear contemporary versions of the dress made of synthetic fabric embroidered with cotton thread. The headscarves have been re-purposed as wall hangings, tablecloths and cushions.

Bethlehem Dress
(right dress in photo)
A woman would wear this costume for the first time on her wedding day, then on festive occasions thereafter. Distinguish by long, winged sleeves called irdan, these dresses were made from a special linen hand-woven exclusively for that purpose. The fabric was crafted in lengths of about 10 yards; silver brocade at one end was used for the lower back of the dress, a tradition that goes back at least 10 centuries. The shatweh, or headdress, resembles those seen on ivory statues dating from 1200 BC. It was presented to the bride at their wedding and could be worn only by married women. Decorated with Ottoman coins and coral, the shatweh, is covered by a large headscarf.
Most of the embroidery on the dress and headdress is metallic and silk couching. The square chest piece features a traditional design with floral rounds in each corner and a central medallion containing a cross (this dress dates from the 1930s when Bethlehem was predominantly Christian). For Muslim brides, flowers replaced the cross. This special linen has not been woven since the 1960s, but Bethlehem dresses made with synthetic fabric and embroidery thread are available to today's brides, who often include one in their weddings along with a modern white gown. On special occasions, today's Palestinian women also wear contemporary jackets and accessories inspired by the traditional couching.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: Comoros and Djibouti


Sahari na Subaiya
One of the earliest outfits worn specifically for Comoran weddings, the "sahari na soubaiya" consists of two rectangular pieces of striped cotton edged in trim. One piece is tied around the body; the other is draped over the head. The most impressive part of the costume, however, is not shown: Comoran brides are typically adorned in extravagant gold jewelry, including a very heavy necklace.
The Union of Comoros is but three small islands with a population of about 650,000, yet not only do wedding traditions vary within the archipelago, they also vary from one part of an island to another. the festivities known as the 'grand mariage' are emblematic of the country. Lasting anywhere from nine days to several weeks or longer, they attract guests from throughout the island. There are no invitations, everyone is welcome to feast and celebrate. these events-- which often cost the equivalent of several years salary-- give the groom a social status (mdrumdzima) that allows him to take his place among the local notables.


Somali Direh
The Afars and Somalis are the leading ethnic groups in Djibouti. The "direh" is worn by Somalis on numerous occasions, including weddings. It consists of a long, billowing dress made of chiffon or other light fabric that is worn over a long petticoat or slip. The outfit, which comes in many different colors, is completed with a matching headscarf.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: Sudan and Tunisia

All of these images and the text were showcased at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from February 23-March 15, 2009.
I took the pictures and typed out the text in the exhibit.


Red Wedding Dress
Throughout Sudan, the traditional wedding gown is bright red, a color that is believed to ward off the evil eye. The bridal outfit includes a knitted black silk cap (jedla) ward under a gold cal (tageia) and gold ornaments such as a necklace, a belt, a bracelet and ring combination (kaff) and numerous anklets (hujul). The items displayed here are costume wedding jewelry, but such accessories are usually made of solid gold. Worn exclusively at weddings, they are valuable heirlooms handed down from one generation to the next.


Mahdia Wedding Costume
Brides in Mahdia, in eastern Tunisia, don this style of costume the day they are adorned with henna. Known as "qmejja et farmla guli," it has been worn since the early 20th century and exhibits influences form the Turkish, Andalusian and Fatimid dynasties: the pants are embroidered with sequins evoking fish scales (Mahdia was long a fishing center), the blouse is richly embroidered with paisley and floral motifs, and the gold embroidered tunic and matching headdress are meant to shine like the sun. This ensemble is very heavy, signifying the bride's weighty commitment to being a good wife.

Moknine Wedding Costume

Tunisian brides in the Sahel region, particularly in the city of Moknine, have worn this type of costume since the early 20th century. Called a "hrem sehli", it takes its name from the "hrem de hadj), the dress worn for the "hadj" pilgrimage. The various pieces of this complex ensemble reflect the many cultural influences- Jewish, Berber, Phoenician, Roman, Turkish, Arab- that have shaped the Sahel, which has been a crossroads.
The "hrem sehli" is typically black or burgundy silk embroidered with fine gold thread in an arabesque pattern. The bride wears it with a laish assortment of jewelry and an impressive headpiece consisting of a velvet "coufia" topped with a "gta", a rectangle of stiff, gold embroidered fabric.

Hammamet Wedding Costume
The bride wears this kind of caftan on the day henna is applied to her hands and feet. It is hand embroidered with gold thread and involves so much work that young girls typically begin to make their wedding dresses at age 15. Of Turkish origin, the outfit includes a long, collarless velvet tunic that is open in the front. The sleeves are embroidered with gold thread in shapes such as fish or the Hand of Fatma (to ward off the evil eye). Needlework in white silk thread decorates the cotton pants, and the blouse is embelished with Richelieu cut work embroidery.
The caftan is typically topped with a "tegeia" a richly embroidered headpiece decorated with gemstones, coral, pearls and fringe. The bride also wears gold or silver ankle bracelets that are often part of the dowry from her husband.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brides of the Arab World: Mauritania and Libya

The Arabesque Festival: Brides of the Arab World- Mauritania and Libya


Moorish Wedding Dress
Since pre-colonial times, women in northern Mauritania have worn outfits such as this one for their wedding. Traditionally, the fabric is dyed with indigo, which is not only associated with good fortune but also offers protection from the sun. The color is also suitably subdued, as ostentatious hues are not considered appropriate. To complete the outfit the bride wears an "essabeh", a piece of jewelry draped across the forehead.

Haalpulaar Wedding Dress
The Haalpular, also known as the Toucouleurs, are among the ethnic groups that originally lived in southern Mauritania, near the border with Senegal. Still worn today, this dress style goes back to the days before the French colonized the country in the late 19th century. Originally such garments were made from white hand woven fabric; later, they were colored with organic dyes. Today, fabrics are machine women but are still hand dyed with natural pigments, in particular indigo, which is thought to bring good luck. Brides also wear a special braided hairstyle incorporating gold rings--the richer the bride, the more rings.


Tripoli Wedding Costume
Wedding dress styles vary throughout Libya-- in Tripoli, the capital, dresses are worn long; elsewhere n the country, they are shorter to show off gold- embroidered pant legs. In southern desert areas, dark cottons are common, whereas pale silks prevail to the north. Made of silk with silver and gold embroidery, this outfit features a dress and scarf along with a colorful beaded blouse, matching pants and a crystal-beaded vest with gold buttons. It is a recent reproduction of a traditional style still worn by Libyan brides.