Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kuchis Wedding Dress

I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what this is.  I suspect it's a wedding dress worn by women of the Kuchis people of Afghanistan.  

The Kuchis are Pashtun-speaking nomads, who heavily embroider their wedding dresses.  And we've got one.  The Roommate gave it to me for xmas a few years back.  It was easy to get Afghan goods when we lived in Abu Dhabi.  Unfortunately we never got to Afghanistan, so the souq in Abu Dhabi was the best we could do.

I have been scouring the web for information about this type of garment, and would love to show you a photo of a bride wearing one.  Though I have found plenty of dresses, modern & vintage that look similar, I'm finding very little about who would have worn these dresses, why and where.  That they're worn by Kuchis women is about the closest I've gotten, and because weddings are a big deal the world over, I'm making an educated guess about the purpose of this garment.  I feel sure that though this is a longer dress, it would probably be worn over a pair of loose pants.  
Waistband detail + 3 medallions

The top is heavily embroidered with glass beads and metallic thread.  Round medallions of varying diameter are at the waist, the shoulders and on the sleeves.  The sleeves have the finger loop (also beaded) that would go over the middle finger to keep the sleeves down.  Although the dress itself doesn't seem that big (for an average sized woman), the sleeves are very long (and we had to fold them a bit to get them to fit on this 5' wide rod).  

Sleeve detail: mirrorwork &
metallic thread embroidery
This dress is heavy...the bodice is so thoroughly embroidered that it is stiff and the glass beads, mirror-work (shisha), and metallic thread bring it in at just over 9 lbs!  These are all common textile-decoration techniques from the NW of India, Pakistan & Afghanistan. Remember by common I don't mean simple!  Just that they're from a time period where most women had amazing hand-work skills and plenty of hours to learn these skills & to show them off. 

Skirt embroidery detail
If you're interested in a great book about textile techniques around the world (including many "how-to" instructions, such as adorning your latest creation with some mirrorwork), check out A Visual Guide to World Textiles by John Gillow & Bryan Sentance from Thames & Hudson.  And one online store, Tribal Bazaar, has all sorts of amazing photos; I've never purchased from them, so don't know if they are reputable; but it's fun to look at their photos!  

The Roommate & I took many photos trying to get all the details showing to share with you.  Enjoy!  (Remember, clicking on a photo will take you to the full-size version of that photo.)  Thanks for visiting & I'd love some comments if you know a bit more about this type of dress!  

3.5" medallion detail; one at each cuff

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