This object is one part of two separate gowns worn together as one ensemble (thawb_wa_kandurah). This tunic dress (kandurah mzarai talli naklas) was worn under the second part, the overgarment (thawb mnaghad talli) (ZI1979.50020 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, a 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 1979 at the age of 16, then purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli.
A unique tunic dress (kandurah), ankle-length, long-sleeved, with a square-shaped, low-cut neckline (halj) resembling western necklaces hence the name (naklas), first to appear during the 1990s. The cloth is a high-quality gold brocaded (khus) or (zari) with repeated vertical lines of strung leaves in paisley motif (kazuwah) on white silk.
The neckline (bidhah) is adorned with mono-coloured (talli) work of white cotton (hdub) thread, and silver metallic tinsel straw (khus). Using a running stitch, and continuously looping metallic ribbon with cotton thread, a twisted 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, semi-circular, and circular lines following the same design applied on the overgarment (thawb mnaghad talli) that accompanies it; 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 sleeve cuffs (hyul) feature the 28 lines of the same mono-coloured (talli_fatlah) followed by 5 of the finished with one line in repeated loops.
Before the 1980s, it was common to employ contrasting colours and techniques within the components of the traditional dress. Women used to wear a thawb that contrasted with the tunic dress (kandurah), as in this example, where the gold brocaded tunic was matched with a white embellished thawb (ZI1997.50020 UAE).