This object was sourced with the help of fashion designer Homeira Ebadi from an elderly lady, Bebe Asad Allah Deen / Bebe Asad Alauddin of Fishvar village in the Larestan county of 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 head scarf or veil (meyna) is made of red silk gauze or chiffon with metal embroidery commonly known as (badlah) throughout Iran as well as South Asia – India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Although a rectangular piece it has two rounded corners for the purpose of easy draping around the head and shoulders.
Three sides of the veil are finished with metal thread (zari) – possibly gold and silver – crocheted trimmings in five different layers on the horizontal side. The outermost layer around the edge is adorned with gold and silver scallops sewn into the edge.
This is followed by an interlaced square pattern which is further followed by two strips of badlah in different widths featuring geometric patterns. This edging is topped with a gold and silver zari woven lace trimming. The narrower ends of the veil have four layers of border. Starting with the lace trimming at the inner end, which is followed by a black and gold woven strip which is further followed by a wide strip woven in rose gold threads and orange silk floss creating a repeat of diamond patterns. The final layer is the series of threads hanging loose from the edge in a fringe with golden sequins attached to it at the end.
Although (rusari) is the pan-Iranian term for veils, diaphanous meyna like this are commonly worn with a collarless ceremonial shirt of silk brocade (jama_atlas / juma_atlas) or a long-sleeved tunic (pirhan) or the Qashqai (keynak) and a full or divided skirt (tombun_zanuna) and a pair of underdrawers (zirsawlar) by women of the Lori speaking ethnicity.
While the Lori community calls it the meyna and is usually paired with a hood (lačak) underneath it, the women of the Qashqai tribes – Turkic origin from the Zagros mountainous region – whose traditional dresses until c. the 1920s were heavily influenced and were almost similar to the population of southwest Iran – Fars, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, west Hormozgan, etc. –referred to their diaphanous veil as lačak or (čarqad) which they draped over a small skull cap called (kolaqča).
Although this ensemble has a very close resemblance to the regular ensemble from Fishvar – also in Fars province, Iran rife with Lori-speaking tribes –it is worth noting that this ensemble is a ceremonial garment for occasional wear. While the northern Lori women would be seen wearing a scarf (tara_awwal) and a turban (tara) over it on their heads, the Bakhtiari and Boir-Ahmadi women of the south often drape their heads with a hood (lačak) and fine veil (meyna) over it.
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.