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Beyond the Chador: Iranian urban and regional dress

Iran is a country with a very ancient and proud history. It is also a country with a harsh climate, with deserts and mountains and an overall lack of water. Formerly known as Persia, it lies at the cross-roads between Asia, the Near East and Europe. Iran is the homeland of many empires, including the Persian Achaemenids, the Parthians, the Sassanians and the Safavids. Over the centuries numerous groups crossed the country, in both directions. Some of the newcomers settled down, others moved on. Nowadays Iran has frontiers with Afghans, Arabs, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Pakistanis, Turks and Turkmen.

The country’s geography, climate and human history created a complex tapestry that reflects a wide diversity of cultures and traditions. Although rapidly vanishing in some areas due to national pressures and globalisation, many aspects of these traditions can still be found in the regional dress of the country, especially that worn by women.

Most of the outfits in the planned exhibition date from the end of the 19th to the end of the 20th century and are now in the collection of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Many of the garments were collected during long periods of field work in Iran between 1998-2003 by the proposed guest curators.  The garments originate from among most of the main ethnic groups, plus some smaller ones. There are many more regional variations!

  

 

General Information

TRC curators: Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood; Dr Willem Vogelsang

Type of exhibition: Regional

Size of exhibition:c. 150 sq metres

Intended audience:  Anyone interested in textiles and dress; anyone interested in Iran and the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent; Muslim communities; Iranians; Parsis (Zoroastrians); anyone involved in aspects of multi-cultural society.

 

Specific Information

Contents: The proposed exhibition deals with urban and regional costumes from what is now called Iran, but for centuries was known as Persia. It contains clothing of the men, women and children from urban centres and all of the main ethnic groups and minorities currently living in Iran. Emphasis is placed on the cultural/religious groups and where they live and how the two elements relate to each other.

Manner of presentation: Most of the clothing listed below consists of complete outfits that can be displayed on mannequins; some of the garments will be displayed individually, in showcases or on rolls. The exhibition will be supplemented with a range of black and white and colour photographs from the late nineteenth century until the present day, showing the style of garments on show being worn in daily life.  Text boards and maps will provide further information.

Motivation: Iran is coming out of a long period when it was virtually cut-off from the Western world. There is a growing interest in the country in the media and by the general public. The garments to be displayed will provide a totally different image of the country from the one which is normally expected. Such an exhibition has never been staged before in Europe and it is possible because the TRC has the largest collection of Iranian dress outside of Iran.

Collections involved: TRC.

Publications: An accompanying book on Iranian dress is currently being produced (2011). A small catalogue or booklets on the clothing of specific groups from Iran are also feasible.

  

Exhibition contents

Urban

      Late 19th century clothing

  1. Court official clothing for a man, indoor clothing                   
  2. Outfit for a wealthy woman, indoor clothing
  3. Outfit for a poor woman, outdoor clothing
  4. Outfit for a female servant, outdoor clothing

Modern clothing

  1. Woman in black chador, general
  2. Female servant in a chador, general
  3. Woman in manteau with rosary, general
  4. Schoolgirl, general
  5. Schoolboy, general
  6. Mullah/black turban/winter, religious
  7. Muharram – boy, religious
  8. Muharram – man, religious

Central

  1. Abiyaneh woman, festive
  2. Abiyaneh woman, daily
  3. Abiyaneh man, daily
  4. Yazd Zoroastrian woman, traditional
  5. Yazd Zoroastrian woman, modern

Caspian and northwestern regions

  1. Gilan mountains – old man, general
  2. Gilan mountains – woman, Deilami
  3. Gilan woman, Talish
  4. Gilan woman, Amlash
  5. Turkish/Azeri young woman, daily
  6. Turkish/Azeri older woman, festival
  7. Shahsavan man, nomadic
  8. Shahsavan woman, nomadic 

Western valleys

  1. Kurdish man, sal sepik style
  2. Kurdish man, pesmerga style
  3. Kurdish man, rank-o-choukhah style
  4. Kurdish boy, modern
  5. Kurdish woman, modern
  6. Kurdish woman, Khoy/Jalali
  7. Kurdish woman, Chakaq/Urumia
  8. Kurdish woman, Naqadi
  9. Kurdish woman, Mahabad, festival
  10. Kurdish woman, Sanandaj
  11. Kurdish girl, Sanandaj
  12. Kurdish woman , Kermanshah
  13. Kurdish girl, Kermanshah
  14. Kurdish woman, Haraki
  15. Kurdish woman, working

Southwestern mountains

  1. Bakhtiari man, nomadic, mourning
  2. Bakhtiari boy, nomadic
  3. Bakhtiari woman, nomadic
  4. Bakhtiari girl, nomadic
  5. Luri man, nomadic
  6. Luri woman, nomadic
  7. Luri girl, nomadic
  8. Qashqai man, nomadic
  9. Qashqai woman, nomadic
  10. Qashqai girl, nomadic

Southern plains and Persian Gulf

  1. Khuzestan Arab man, winter
  2. Khuzestan Arab man, summer
  3. Khuzestan Arab woman, winter
  4. Khuzestan Arab woman, party
  5. Bandar Abbas man, winter
  6. Bandar Abbas boy, winter
  7. Bandar Abbas woman, Sunnite
  8. Bandar Abbas woman, Shi’ite
  9. Bandar Abbas girl, general
  10. Baluch man, summer
  11. Baluch boy, summer
  12. Baluch woman, summer
  13. Baluch girl, summer
  14. Sistani man, general
  15. Sistani woman, general

Northeastern regions

  1. Mazanderan woman, working
  2. Kazak woman, festival
  3. Yomut Turkmen man, old fashioned, winter
  4. Yomut Turkmen, younger
  5. Yomut Turkmen woman, old fashioned
  6. Yomut Turkmen woman, modern
  7. Garkaz Turkmen woman, modern
  8. Garkaz Turkmen girl, traditional
  9. Guklan Turkmen woman, traditional
  10. Nokhorli Turkmen woman, traditional
  11. Teke Turkmen woman, traditional
  12. Askhabad Turkmen woman, modern
  13. Turkmen man, nomadic
  14. Quchan Kurd woman, nomadic
  15. Quchan Kurd woman, nomadic

TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428   info@trc-leiden.nl

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

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Financial gifts

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
 
Financial donations can also be made via Paypal: