On a field trip to Al Ain as Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli was collecting data for her studies she met with Hamdah Sultan, Um Thani, who very generously gifted her this article.
Hamdah never finished her high school and married her paternal cousin at the age of fourteen. She bore four daughters and six sons. Talented in metallic straw braiding (talli), she participates in cultural festivals to teach the craft and sustain it.
Generally worn with a contrasting tunic dress (kandurah) underneath, this overgarment is cut out of a loose weave, net-like, silk (bu_gafas) fabric. The 40 cm green central panel (bdinah) is flanked by two vertical 20 cm wide fuchsia (busi) panels (mfahah) on each side. The wide sleeves (jinan) are composed of three horizontal panels (myaza’), consecutively in red, yellow, and green. While red diamond gussets help the sleeves drape well.
The neckline (bidhah) is adorned with (talli) work in white cotton thread (hdub) and silver metallic straw (khus). By using a running stitch, and continuously looping metallic straw with cotton thread, a braided strand is created in a style known as (talli_fatlah). This strand (fatlah) is then applied by hand to the garment, creating various looped, straight, and circular lines.
With time, as in this example, the neck opening became wider to allow more of the neckline and upper chest area to be visible. This wider neck also allowed the decorative work on the neckline of the tunic dress (kandurah) underneath to be visible. This in turn pushed the decorative heavy adornment work outwards, spilling over the shoulders and flowing down the upper sleeves. The length and width of the embroidered central axis of the thawb also became more exaggerated and elaborate over time.
The application of such heavy embroidery to a delicate sheer fabric, causes it to stiffen and pull the whole overgarment (thawb) from the front. To fix it in place, safety pins were used in the interior at shoulder points to attach it to the tunic dress underneath. In time, this too evolved into metallic silver snaps (siq_w_biq) and eventually to transparent plastic ones, and eventually led to the combination overgarment tunic dress (thawb_kandurah) at the start of the new millennium.
Keywords: zari, dharb