This ensemble was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli from an independent dealer from Bandar Abbas area in south Iran in 2018.
These are fuchsia pink silk trousers (shalvar) of (satin) (damask) weave traditionally worn by women of Bandar Abbas and Hormozgan areas in south Iran. They are an ankle-length pair of tapered trousers loose with a gathered waistline that has a drawstring fastening.
These are usually worn with a loose shift (jama) of coloured cotton with a collar (gariban) and a rectangular black scarf (makna) made of thin silk or other sheer material by older women of the region.
The cuffs are embellished with thick metallic foil embroidered (badlah) borders. It could be roughly divided into two parts the six outer tiers forming a curved L shape on a black, orange, green, white, blue, and pink base and seven rectangular inner tiers on black, pink, green, white, blue, and orange base.
The colourful bases are woven with wool and the badlah features geometric zigzag patterns in different sizes and scales. The damask pattern of the main fabric has repeats of large floral motifs very similar to Chinese chrysanthemums and peonies.
The shalvar is otherwise unlined except for the cuffs which are lined with plain white cotton gauze fabric and have a black nylon zip attached vertically to fit the wearer’s ankle size.
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 and shirts which are detachable and could be changed are called badlah.
These embellished broad-cuffed shalvar are not just unique to south Iran but are equally famous across the Gulf in the countries across the Arabian Peninsula such as Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Oman. The quality of craftsmanship on this shalvar is so refined that it looks almost commercially produced in a factory, while in reality they are made at home by women of the region.
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.