This object was sourced with the help of fashion designer Homeira Ebadi from an elderly lady Khir Fatima Kalsun of Larestan County in Fars province, Iran. It was purchased by her on behalf of Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli in 2018 to be added to The Zay initiative collection.
Apart from being a fashion designer Ms. Ebadi is a dedicated volunteer associated with The Zay Initiative and its cause, often lending a hand in sourcing unique pieces like this.
Our heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Ebadi for her efforts for her contribution.
This is a scarlet (satin) silk (brocade) women’s traditional ceremonial shirt (jama_atlas)/(juma_atlas) from Evaz especially worn during weddings. It has gold, silver, blue, green, and turquoise silk woven threads in floral motifs. It is usually worn over a full or divided skirt (tombun_zanuna) and a pair of under-drawers (zirsawlar) by Lori-speaking ethnic women of Iran including the women of the Lor, Bakhtiari, and Boir-Ahmadi tribes.
With a round neckline followed by a ‘v ‘shaped packeted sliver and an extended slit down the front middle for opening, it has a strip of metal buttons in golden colour.
The placket of the neckline and the front opening has trimmings with metallic embroidery (badlah) where small metal pieces – possibly silver – are set into the base of the ribbons in a zigzag pattern on a black woollen base. This is followed by a similar-looking but a smaller row of metal badlah trimming on a red base. The outermost layer is a wide lace trimming (crocheted) with metallic threads possibly gold and silver (zari).
The cuffs of the shirt have several tiers of badlah trimmed rows featuring different geometric shapes aligned parallel to one another primarily on black, red, and yellow base. It is also finished with a wide gold and silver zari crocheted lace woven with metallic threads.
The shirt consists of several sections, a central section that covers both the front and back of the wearer followed by two longitudinal sections on either side with two square pieces of cloth at the armpits connected to the sleeves.
The left side of the piece has two small holes. It is a completely hand-stitched piece with no lining except around the collar, the cuffs and down the midriff to prevent the metal trimmings and lace from brushing up against the skin of the wearer. The limited amount of lining is constructed of a red crepe fabric. Possibly handed down, the cuffs have been stitched later to fit the wearer.
It is worth noting that the name badlah for this type of embroidery is although the same across Iran and South Asia it is also sometimes commonly referred to as (khus_dozi) in south Iran.
It is believed that the term badlah is derived from the phrase ‘badal kinari’ – cloud lining – popular during the Mughal period in India as net or fine gauze silk were often embroidered with metal pieces giving them the look of clouds with bright lines around them.
However, upon crossing the Gulf and reaching the Arabian Peninsula the nomenclature of the embroidery changes to (talli/tulle_bi_talli), while the cuffs of women’s trousers which are detachable and could be changed are called badlah.
With cross-cultural lineages running deep between the communities living on either side of the Gulf, it is thus no wonder, that material culture such as this has found firm grounds on both sides.
Although part of an ensemble in the collection, the sourcing of each item in the series has been done separately. However, traditional women’s costumes from the Fars province of Iran consisted of similar pieces put together.