Kurdish Clothes in the Eyes of the Tourists from 1501 to 1979 - Part 1

Chia Azizi

Kurdish  Women's  Clothing

In the travelers' reports, there are references to the various compositions of Kurdish women's clothing. Since the clothes of Kurdish women have special effects, their description is well reflected in the travelers' reports; for example, the importance of color, the way of linking the pieces of fabrics together, etc. have not been missed from the eyes of those tourists.

For example, among the tourists who paint a vivid picture of Kurdish women's clothing in their minds, Gaser Darwill describes the clothes of women who lived in tents as nomads: "They wear long dresses that have a crack on the top and are carried with a white belt that both ends of it are hanged down their waist. Their head scarves are made of white linen fabric hanging from both sides of the face, falling to the middle of the belt. The scarf is held with a thin brown silk band that is wrapped around the forehead." (1)

Gasper's description shows the style of women's clothes living in tents with two basic points: first, according to the area and lifestyle, we see a special dress; and second, the difficulties of life in the tents were not hindered by the simplicity of their dresses however, according to Gasper's description, this dress had a complicated design while it was very simple. In another part of his description, Gasper says: "Kurdish women's clothes are more beautiful and descriptive than Iranian women's clothes. They also wear a short-bodied vest that covers a part of the long dress and over this short-bodied vest, they wear an expensive belt that emphasizes their bodies' shape and makes them look more attractive. Like Kurdish men, Kurdish women also wear Sarwen (a kind of head cover) and Pantol (men's pants) however, these pieces of clothing are lighter and more beautiful than the men's style." (2) undoubtedly, the special effects of Kurdish women's clothing have led Gasper to make this comparison, and he has talked about each part in detail, each of which has a special name in the Kurdish language; for example, the short-bodied vest is called "Kawa", the belt is called "Pishtwen"; head scarf is "Shada" and women's trousers are called "Darpe". (3)

 The beauty of Kurdish women's clothing is reflected in Archibald Roosevelt-Ed's views: "Women, whose clothes are no less attractive than men's, walk in a happy and proud state and while holding their bodies upright, they carry water jugs on their heads. Their head scarves are blue." (4)

Diwanbaygi referring to the Kurdish women's clothes of Nodsha (in the Pawa region) wrote: "km clothes are the same as the long robes of the past generations, a very long dress under which they wear a narrow cut skirt to give the dress more volume and texture; they fold the underneath skirt so that it would be narrower. Women tie their waists. The rich wear silver belts and the poor wear silk ones." (5)

Bijar Women in Kurdish Original Clothes in the 1950s

The structure of women's clothing has been largely preserved in this way; however, their styles and forms have changed more or less; for example, "Ziyapour" explains the size of the belt like this: "It was longer than two meters and wider than one meter, it was mostly made of colorful and floral fabrics, sometimes it is folded in the middle so that its width is half as its real width." (6)

Over time, the length and width of the belt fabric has decreased. The use of women's headscarves has also decreased and they are worn to wedding ceremonies only.

Based on Claudius James Rich's travelogue, he describes Kurdish women's clothes like this: 1. Wide trousers, 2. Colorful dress, 3. A belt with a large gold or silver ornament, 4. A short-bodied vest with a decorative button and striped or silk, chit, Gujarati, and Istanbul yellow fabrics; the variety depends on the temperature and the people's wealth, 5. A half coat (Kolonja or Salta) made of satin fabric and it looks like a short-bodied vest with sleeves reaching the elbows, 6. An overcoat for winter (sometimes two vests or half coats are worn) 7. Charoka (a cloak), 8. Sukhma (a short vest), 9. Sarband/Sarwena or Amama (head scarf), 10. A piece of fabric is worn underneath the scarf. (7) (8)

To be continued… 


Darwill, Gasper (1986), a Travel to Iran, translated by Manouchehr E'temad Moqadam, second edition, Bija, Bina, p.326.

Darwill, Gasper (1986), a Travel to Iran, translated by Manouchehr E'temad Moqadam, second edition, Bija, Bina, p. 321- 322.

Mohseni, Shirin (2004), Kurdish clothes in Iran, Clothes in Iran (picture book), from a series of Iranika articles supervised by Ehsan Yarshater 1, translated by Peyman Matin, preface by Ali Bloukbashi, second edition, Tehran, Amir Kabir Publication co. p. 310.

Roosevelt, Archibald (1995), A Passion for Learning, translated by Sohba Saeedi, second edition, Tehran, Etela'at, p. 310.

Diwanbaygi, Hossein ibn Reza Qoli (2003), Diwanbaygi's memoir (Mirza Hassan Khan), collected by Iraj Afshar, Mohammad Rasoul Daryagasht, first edition, Tehran, Asatir Publication, p. 122.

Ziyapour, Jalil (Bita), Iranian Tribes, Nomads and Villagers' Clothes, Bija, Farhang Amme Publication from Culture and Art Ministry Publication, p. 47.

Rich, Claudius James (2019), Claudius James Rich's Travelogue (Kurdistan Chapter), translated by Hassan Jaff, edited by Faramarz Aghabeygi, first edition, Tehran, Iranshenasi Publication, p. 230 - 231.

Aghabeygi, Faramarz (2021), Kurds in Travelogues (from the Safavid era to the Pahlavi's), first edition, Tehran, Iranshenasi Publication.

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