This undergarment (Sarwal) is accompanied by a matching silver embroidered tunic dress (Kandurah_arabiyah bu_nsai’ah) (ZI1998.50010 UAE).
Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli purchased this article of dress in 1998 from Bakhitah Al ‘Ali, Um Salih.
Bakhitah Al ‘Ali, was in her late fifties when the two ladies met. She never attended any formal schooling but studied under a religious tribal teacher “mtawa’ah” and like many of her peers could recite the holy Quran by heart. She married her maternal cousin at the age of 13 and bore 3 daughters and five sons. She was very talented in crafts and made the underpants cuffs (badlah talli) that accompanied the tunic (kandurah).
These underpants (sarwal) are composed of a form of striped (bu_glaym), satin cotton material known as (bu_nsai’ah), similar to its matching tunic dress (Kandurah_arabiyah bu_nsai’ah). The first part of the name references the chevron-like lines that form some of the stripes which resemble the cotton weave of the drawstring cord (ns’ah).
The fabric is of a deep purple base colour, embellished with repetitive white, vertical, 1 cm wide, chevron lines, sandwiched by 0.5 cm wide vertical dark green coloured stripes, outlined in 0.25 cm gold coloured stripes. This type of fabric is popular and commonly worn by Emirati women and young girls alike.
The badlah, in the Emirati dialect, is the namesake of the cuffs on the underpants (sarwal). It is generally composed of multiple lines of cords, braids, bands or ribbons (fatlat or ftul) that are individually created by knotting together cotton (hdub), silk brisam, or synthetic (nailon) threads with silver, gold plated , or metallic (zari) ribbons (khus). Resulting in over 40 recorded designs that have been cultivated in varying widths, motifs, and intricacies, often named after the motifs depicted on them.
The decorative cuffs (badlah) are generally composed of the central portion (bayt) and side or edge (traf). The bayt makes up the larger, middle part of the cuff and can include between 1 to 20 different cords or ribbons (ftul talli) hand-stitched, side by side. The centre is hemmed by the traf, meaning edges. These form the rim or border of the central portion (bayt).
The traditional basic style of cuff (badlah) includes a trim that sits between the central portion (bayt) and edges (traf) in a (talli_shakil) motif. The (talli_gitan) motif is generally the lower edge and the (talli_ghuli) or (talli_minsharah) motifs decorate the upper edge. Every cord or braid is made separately and joined together afterwards.
The wider larger size cuffs are reserved for special occasions, while narrower smaller sizes are used for everyday wear or by the elderly.
In this example, only black cotton (hdub) is braided with gold metallic (zari). The upper edge uses upside down (talli_minsharah mnakasah) motif, followed consecutively by lines of talli ftul motif, talli_finkh_al_batikhah motif, talli ftul motif and talli (bayt_bu_glasat). The latter is one of two main designs customarily applied to the heart of the (badlah), the other is known as (bayt_bu_bitan ).
The edges (traf) are then composed of double lines of talli ftul motif ending with a line of talli_minsharah motif.