This Combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah) was commissioned by Sheikhah Hamda bint Mohammed Al Nahyan, maternal aunt to the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as a gift to Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli.
Sheikhah Hamda has the generous habit of annually gifting such outfits to family members and close friends, especially during (Eid) festivities. This particular example was commissioned from the late Fatima bint Sa’ad, a well-known palace dressmaker.
Sheikhah Hamda was and continues to be, a great supporter of Dr. Reem’s work and efforts in preserving and documenting aspects of UAE heritage and history. She was instrumental in opening doors to meet with and record oral histories of many women in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, which culminated in the book (Sultani), Traditions Renewed; Changes in women’s traditional dress in the United Arab Emirates during the reign of the late Shaikh Zayid Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, 1966-2004.
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 nude coloured french silk tulle (tur) creating the upper layer or (thawb), lined by an inner ruby red satin silk tunic (kandurah). Both garments are attached by sharing one neckline.
The tulle (tur) fabric is hand embroidered (shak) in repetitive floral motifs of red and mat antique gold silk thread (brisam); antique gold sequins (tirtir) and red glass beads.
The shared neckline and central axis (bidhah) continue the nineties trend of a larger open neckline that allowed for more cleavage, to accentuate western-style jewellery, while the central axis became broader and extended lower to crotch level.
Arabesque and floral motifs of machine embroidery (khwar) accentuate the central axis bidhah, in antique mat gold and ruby red thread, with the floral motif mirrored down the middle line. Matching embroidery adorns the sleeve cuffs of the inner tunic kandurah.
To make the best use of the whole extravagant fabric coupon (tagah) joints were created. Two main vertical joints delineate the central panel (bdinah), using the scalloped edge of the fabric for the edges of wide sleeve openings. Two extra shoulder line joints and two small lower horizontal joints close to the bottom hemline on each sleeve (jinan) were added. All joints were accentuated with 1cm wide machine embroidery line of antique mat gold thread.
Additionally, the garment is heavily adorned with iron-on Swarovski crystals (fsus) in dark ruby red and citrine, both outlining the embroidered motifs as well as scattered all over the remaining net fabric to give the article the highly desired yet subdued shimmer.