This combination overgarment tunic dress (Thawb_kandurah), previously worn by Sheikha Dr. Shamma Bint Mohammed bin Khalid al Nahyan was displayed 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 Dr. Shamma Bint Mohammed bin Khalid al Nahyan is the first female from the Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi ruling family to hold a Ph.D. She is chairwoman of the Mohammed Bin Khalid Al Nahyan cultural and educational institutions and a close friend of Dr. Reem 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 gold brocaded (khus) or (zari) light weight, semi-sheer silk chiffon on a lime green base. The neckline and central axis (bidhah) are machine embroidered (khwar) using metallic gold and silver thread (zari), in a combination of floral and chevron (bu_nsaiah) motifs, and further accentuated with iron-on crystals (fsus), white, pink, green, and rainbow lustred white.
The sleeve cuffs (hyul) of the matching inner lime green satin silk tunic (kandurah), now lining, are treated in the same matching embroidery and adornment.
In these overgarment tunics, with time, as in this example, the cleavage 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.