This tunic dress is the second part of two separate pieces worn together in one ensemble (Thawb_wa_kandurah), worn under the second part, the overgarment (ZI1968.50021 UAE). The whole outfit could traditionally only be afforded by the elite, who loaned it out for weddings as an act of social and tribal bonding.
This tunic dress (Kandurah) was presented by Sheikhah Shama bint Rashid bin Khalaf Al Utaibah- first wife to Sheikh Tahnun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi ruler’s representative of the eastern region- to Buthaina al Kadi mother of Dr Reem Tariq el Mutwalli- as a welcome gift upon her arrival to Al Ain in 1968.
Buthaina’s children were: Reem (age 5), Zeyad (age 4) and Abdul Aziz (age 3) accompanied the head of the family to settle in Al Ain in 1968 where Dr Tariq el Mutwalli was appointed by the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as the economic consultant to the crown prince Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. They subsequently moved to Abu Dhabi in 1970 and since then the family adopted the UAE as their home and forged intimate lifetime relationships with the ruling family.
This tunic dress Kandurah is of Indian silk (sari) and features silver coil machine embroidered (Khwar Tulah) adorning the neckline (Halj) & sleeve cuffs (Hyul). This type of tunic dress (Kandurah_arabiyah), is particular to the UAE. It is a long tunic with a vertical slit (Shaj) located on the left side of the neckline that extends down the chest. Its origins are believed to lie in the Punjabi (Kurta).
This garment is fastened using metal snap press studs (Siq_w_biq). At the time it was made, these metal studs were seen as a sign of modernity, trendiness, and social stature. On other similar garments, cotton thread buttons (igam) were used.
This Kandurah represents a physical example of the traditional Arabic saying (Zinah_wa_khazinah), meaning “beauty and wealth in one”. The silver was employed to demonstrate style and reflect social status, but could also be melted down and sold in times of need.