This object is one part of two separate gowns worn together as one ensemble (thawb_wa_kandurah). This overgarment (thawb) was worn over the second part, the tunic dress (kandurah mzarai talli naklas) (ZI1997.50020a 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.
The article was sourced through Fatima al Mghani, renowned UAE heritage scholar and author. A friend and colleague of Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, an expert on UAE culture and heritage who continues to support and help source materials for The Zay Initiative.
Originally part of the dowry (zihbah) of Mariam Ahmed al Naqbi, married in 1997 at the age of 16, then purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli.
This overgarment’s (thawb) fabric was imported from India as ready-made white tulle (tur) adorned in scattered, hand-applied silver coloured tinsel specks (naqdah) known locally as (naghdah) or (talli).
The fabric appears to have been folded to the height of the wearer, creating the general shape of the garment. The neck opening was marked and cut out on the folded crease, where the (talli) was later applied.
The tinsel fabric adornment was applied by hand directly to the fabric. Usually, the straw (khus), about 0.635 cm wide and 46 cm to 61 cm long, were threaded onto a flat, wide needle with a similarly flat, wide eye. The strips were then threaded into the mesh, criss-crossed, and flattened by applying pressure with fingernails. Once the design was completed the fabric was stamped down and passed through a roller, to flatten the metal even more.
It is embellished at the neckline and central axis (bidhah) in rows of hand-applied cords braided from a white cotton thread (hdub) with silver-colored tinsel straw (khus) in a running chain motif (talli_fatlah). The cords are then hand attached to in bold geometric designs; 12 semicircular lines delineating the neckline opening; 5 lines delineating the traditional square yoke shape with 8 circular curved lines filling its two corners; the central axis extends to crotch level ending with two triangular medallions; the overall shape is framed in a continuous looped-form line of the same (talli_fatlah).
Before the 1980s, it was common to employ contrasting colours and techniques within the components of the traditional dress (thawb_wa_kandurah). Women used to wear a thawb that contrasted with the tunic dress (kandurah), as in this example, where the white thawb was matched with a gold brocaded tunic (kandurah mzarai) (ZI1997.50020a UAE).