Al-Hudaydah Dresses (Yemen)

An al-Hudaydah dress from the northern part of the Tihamah region, western Yemen (1990's). An al-Hudaydah dress from the northern part of the Tihamah region, western Yemen (1990's). TRC 2005.0080.

The coastal city of al-Hudaydah lies in the northern part of the Tihamah region, in western Yemen. Women in this area wear a distinctive, very wide dress (qamis), with atlas cloth decorating the long sleeves and lower hem, and with couched band work down the front.

The main embroidery on the dresses is normally made of couched cotton bands with metal thread. In the older dresses the embroidery is carried out directly onto the garment. Later versions use bands of varying widths that are sewn down to the ground material. In other segments of the dress the embroidery is carried out in a couching technique with a cotton band and a silver thread woven into it, and these are sewn down onto the black cotton ground in intricate, geometric designs.

The dress is normally made from a black cotton material. The cotton and metal thread band of the later versions is sewn down the front and back of the garment, around the neck opening and down the front. These garments are very similar in scale and decorative techniques to the qamis worn by women in and around the southern Tihamah town of Zabid. The main differences lie in (a) the wider cut of the al-Hudaydah garments in comparison to the Zabid version and (b) the use of atlas to decorate the sleeve and dress hems (a feature which is not used on the Zabid dresses).


  • MAURIÈRES, Arnaud, Philippe CHAMBON, and Éric OSSART (2003). Reines de Saba: Itinéraires Textiles au Yémen, Aix-en Provence: Édisud.
  • RANSOM, Marjorie and Gillian VOGELSANG-EASTWOOD (2016). 'Embroidery from Yemen,' in: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (ed.), Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World, London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 520-559, esp. p. 547.
  • STONE, Francine (1985). Studies on the Tihamah: The Report of the Tihamah Expedition 1982 and Related Papers, London: Longman.


Last modified on Sunday, 26 March 2017 12:04