This combination overgarment tunic dress (Thawb_kandurah), previously worn by Sheikha Dr. Moza bint Mubarak al Nahyan at the exhibition accompanying the launch of the first edition of the book, Sultani: Traditions Renewed; Changes in Women’s Traditional Dress in the UAE during the reign of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan 1966-2004, by Dr. Reem El Mutwalli.
Where two launch events took place; a public launch at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2011, under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan; and a private reception at the palace of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayid al Nahyan, son of UAE president, hosted by his wife Sheikha bint Saif al Nahyan. Attended by most female members of Al Nahyan family, when each donated one outfit to said exhibit, to be preserved by the author and added to the Zay collection.
Sheikha Moza bint Mubarak Al Nahyan, is a sister of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and the wife of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. Sheikha Moza holds a Ph.D. in Islamic studies, founded al Mubarakah Foundation, and is a childhood friend of Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli.
Before the 1980s, it was common to employ contrasting colours and techniques within the components of the traditional dress. Women used to wear an overgarment (Thawb) that contrasted with the tunic dress (Kandurah). Soon this evolved into a matching set known as (Thawb_wa_kandurah).
By the 1990s, it developed further, as the two identical pieces were merged into one, attached at the neckline as they became a unified piece or combination overgarment tunic called Thawb_kandurah reserved for social events.
The Thawb in this version of Thawb_kandurah is in light white, pink, and sky-blue chiffon silk. Its unique and intricate panelling creates an overall patchwork of repetitive diamond shapes. Elevating the traditional panelling known as (Myaza‘) to a new and contemporary level. While the general outer shape of the Thawb is tapered in as it descends to the hemline creating a more fitted silhouette.
The diamond shapes, as well as the neckline and central axis (Bidhah), are further accentuated with lines and clusters of small geometric squares using metallic gold, white, blue, and pink machine embroidered threads (Zari), and coloured iron-on (Fsus) of the same three colours.
The sleeve cuffs (Hyul) of the inner white Satin silk tunic (Kandurah), now lining, are treated in the same matching embroidery and adornment.
In this overgarment, with time, as in this example, the neckline opening widened to reveal more of the neckline and upper chest area, thus accentuating the look of contemporary western style, jewel-encrusted necklaces that became more popular as the region’s wealth increased. This in turn pushed the decorative heavy embroidery work out until it spilled over the shoulders and flowed down the upper sleeves. The length and width of the embroidered central axis also became more exaggerated over time, in line with more elaborate embroidery work.