Preserving traditional Kurdish clothing
Traditional Kurdish garments were worn on a daily basis in the past, and in rural areas, traditional clothes are still preferred over modern garments. Kurdish culture is rich in every possible way, particularly our clothing, which distinguishes us from other cultures and acts as a demarcation of our culture in a multiethnic region. In recent years, the Kurdistan Region has progressed in many ways, and one of those ways is the change to traditional Kurdish dresses, often these changes are made in the name of what is considered as ‘fashionable’. Lawen Azad is the host and producer of ‘Inside Kurdistan Extra’ who believes Kurdish attire should not be part of the progress we are seeing in Kurdistan.
‘Kurdish clothes introduces us and our nation before our words can’
She says, ‘The latest designs bare- ly resemble anything Kurdish at all’ and that ‘many of them look like party dresses’. To outsiders this will not highlight traditional Kurdish attire, it would simply show women in pretty embroidered, and colorful clothes. According to Lawen, ‘Kurdish clothes introduce us and our nation before our words can’ which is why the younger generation of Kurds must have the love of our culture instilled in them, without looking for variants to make traditional attire compatible with global standards of ‘fashion’.
‘We don’t need to modernize every aspect of Kurdish culture’
Traditional Kurdish attire is symbolic because for much of our history these traditional clothes, which are several pieces of garments have been worn in our struggles against dictatorships. This is why ‘strong female leaders in the past have reigned wearing traditional Kurdish dress, and have done so with pride, as well as elegance’ Lawen explains. She went on to say ‘We don’t need to modernize every aspect of Kurdish culture, for instance traditional clothing is a beautiful part of our history and should remain untainted’.
‘Kurdish culture is wonderfully rich’
Lawen believes young people play an integral part in promoting Kurdish dresses, and introducing them in foreign societies. She says, ‘Kurdish attire can be introduced in foreign countries easily, wearing Kurdish attire on special occasions, gatherings and events will attract attention to both Kurdish culture and Kurdistan’. Adding that, ‘Kurdish culture is wonderfully rich’. There are several different traditional styles of Kurdish attire, Kurds living in Northern Kurdistan tend to tailor their dresses differently from those living in Southern Kurdistan but despite minor differences the styles evidently showcase Kurdish heritage.
In Erbil, particularly Qaisari, the variant styles of fabrics available to be woven into Kurdish dresses are unlimited. Each shop has the different types of fabrics categorized by color, type, and where they were imported from. It is always pleasantly surprising to see the lengths sales assistants go to in an attempt to sell a piece of material. And unlike some other societies the prices of material is always negotiated, sometimes you can get something reduced from the original price by at least $20. Our culture of buying, tailoring is almost as exciting as wearing the actual dress, and rekindling our love for this part of our culture is paramount.