This garment (thawb_kandurah) began life in 2011 as a hand-painted silk portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, by his cousin Sheikhah Elyazia bint Nahyan bin Mubarak Zayed Al Nahyan. The combination overgarment tunic (thawb_kandurah) was then designed by her mother Sheikhah Fakhira bint Saeed Al Nahyan in order to complement the artwork. The resulting tailoring and embroidery work was carried out by skilled artisans.
The finished garment was worn on many occasions by Sheikhah Elyazia and was subsequently gifted to the Zay Collection. It was first exhibited at a private exhibition at the palace of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the launch of the first edition of 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 the traditional dress. Women used to wear a (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.
This example features a hand-painted silk portrait of Sheikh Zayed on the chest and the garment was designed to serve as a celebration of his memory. The overgarment thawb part is made of hand-embroidered, sky blue light weight organza while the tunic kandurah underneath is in sky blue satin silk, with hand embellished on the chest area, and the sleeve cuffs (hyul). The hand-embroidered (shak) is comprised of sea blue coloured beads and metallic sequins of varying sizes and different shapes.