Pre­serv­ing tra­di­tional Kur­dish cloth­ing

The Kurdish Globe - - LAST PAGE - Ruwayda Mustafah Rabar

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.

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