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.