This combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah) was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli on one of her field visits to Dubai in UAE while compiling data for her Ph.D. research on the topic from the late 1980s onwards. She met with Aysha Ahmed Abdullah, who was known within the area for making these traditional dresses.
Aysha was born in the late 1960s, she attained a high school degree through the adult education program. She was married to her maternal cousin at the age of 14 and bore 3 daughters and 4 sons. She used her tailoring talents to make traditional dresses for her family and friends. Soon she developed it into a small home cottage business catering to a wider range of clientele. This outfit was made during one of her daughter’s wedding celebrations as part of the wedding trousseau and dates back to the early nineties.
Before the 1980s, it was common to employ contrasting colours and techniques within the components of UAE traditional dress. Women used to wear an overgarment (thawb) that contrasted with the tunic dress (kandurah) underneath. Soon this evolved into matching sets known as (thawb_wa_kandurah), where the two garments were made of the same or matching fabrics and colours. By the late 1990s, this evolved further, as the two separate articles were merged into one and became attached at the neckline, utilising the inner tunic as lining and creating a combination overgarment tunic called thawb_kandurah.
This example of combined overgarment tunic dress (thawb_kandurah), is composed of white silk-net (tur) creating the upper layer or thawb, lined by an inner plain white satin silk tunic kandurah. The two garments are attached by sharing one neckline opening.
The shared neckline and central axis (bidhah) continue the nineties trend of a larger open neckline that showed more cleavage and accentuated western-style jewellery, while the central axis became broader and extended lower to crotch level. It is adorned with arabesque and floral motifs of stiff machine embroidery (khwar_zari), in gold and silver metallic thread (zari). Matching embroidery adorns the sleeve cuffs of the inner tunic kandurah.
The net (tur) composing the upper overgarment (thawb) sports 2 cm wide vertical machine embroidered khwar_zari arabesque lines, 15 cm apart, in gold and silver metallic thread zari, with 2 cm diameter embroidered flower discs accentuating these wide vertical spaces created between the embroidered lines.
Additionally, the garment is heavily adorned with iron-on Swarovski crystals (fsus) outlining the embroidered motifs as well as scattered all over the remaining net fabric to give the article a highly desired extra shimmer.