This overgarment (thawb) is similar to another in the Zay Initiative’s Collection (ZI2019.500829 KSA). The main difference between these two overgarments is that the later example has much wider exaggerated sleeves.
This specific type of overgarment is called (thawb_najdi), referring to the Najd region of Saudi Arabia, where it is commonly worn. Locally, it is also known as (thawb_mnaykhil), (thawb_tur), and (thawb_sahabi).
This thawb was a gift from one of the Al Saud princesses to Sajidah Nuri El Mutwalli, the aunt of Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, when she was performing the rites of pilgrimage (ِAl_Haj).
Sajidah Nuri El Mutwalli was born in Baghdad’s Al-Adhamiyah neighbourhood in the year 1924 A.D. She was the eldest daughter to her parents and had 2 younger sisters and 3 brothers. Her father, Nuri Abdul Aziz El Mutwalli, was the last appointed caretaker to the Sunni shrine of Imam Abu Hanifa in Iraq. Sajidah married her cousin, Kamal Abdul Latif Hamid, at the age of 16 and had four children, two daughters, and two sons. She completed her studies and graduated with a degree in home economics and worked as a teacher. She died and was buried in Abu Dhabi on May 26, 2007. This thawb was passed down to her niece, Dr. Reem, and is now in the Zay Initiative’s Collection.
This machine-stitched overgarment (thawb) is in a simple T-shape made of synthetic black tulle (tur), in dotted in scattered floral motifs. Its overall shape is derived by plainly folding the length of the fabric and cutting an opening at the centre of the fold to allow the head to pass through, creating the neckline, and defining the central dress panel. Three equal size panels are then stitched together in horizontal strips and attached to each side of the central panel creating the upper part of the sleeves ending with a large gusset (tikhrasah) or (bat) at knee height.
The pink silk bat or tikhrasah is brocaded with golden (zari) floral and leave motifs. Hand embroidered trim (kulfah) of green, gold, and pink sequins (tirtir) adorn the sleeve hemlines. The chest is embellished in alternating triangular-shaped motifs (shahm_wa_lahm) in silver and gold coil thread (zari), appliqued in a bib form that extends from the neckline to right above the navel.
This type of overgarment is generally worn on top of a tunic dress (dara’ah), (kurtah) or (muqata’) and is reserved for special occasions.